Major League Soccer has declined to renew the contract of Jeremy Filosa who alleges it’s due to critical comments he made on social media. Filosa, who has called many games on MLS Season Pass, criticized CF Montreal and explained their struggles in the 2023 MLS season.

Filosa, who calls games in French for Apple and MLS, is a well-respected commentator in Canada. He’s known for sharing honest opinions, but it appears that someone within the CF Montreal, Apple, or MLS organizations took umbrage at that.

According to Filosa’s post on social media platform X, “Sometimes harsh opinions and comments shared on my social media did not sit well with some people, and were reported and used to influence my bosses in the United States to make this decision.”

In the past, Filosa criticized CF Montreal and shared his opinions about the team’s struggles in the 2023 MLS season.

If true, this raises concerns about Apple and MLS’s willingness to offer honest commentary. Instead, it opts to protect relationships and branding, creating a very sterile experience. After all, soccer fans appreciate honest analysis whether it’s positive or negative about a team or player. By allegedly punishing a commentator for comments he made on social media, it encourages other MLS Season Pass commentators to conform.

The decision to not renew the commentator is irresponsible

If the allegations are true, rather than defend free speech, Apple and/or MLS chose to drop Filosa. This perceived capitulation to MLS interests could significantly damage Apple’s reputation as an independent media provider. The tech giant looks weak allowing outside pressure to dictate business decisions and editorial standards. It certainly sheds a negative light on MLS for being unable to endure any criticism of its product.

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For many, Filosa’s sacking represents a dangerous precedent of leagues influencing coverage through corporate partners. As a reporter, Filosa saw it as his role to provide objective analysis and informed criticism of teams like Montreal when warranted. He believes the club leveraged Apple’s MLS deal to have him removed for doing his job. 

If true, this raises dire concerns about commentators’ freedom to question leagues and teams without censorship. Fans stand to lose independent perspectives while teams control narratives. Unlike traditional media, Apple is not a journalistic outlet with policies protecting reporters. Thus, Filosa was an easy target for Montreal seeking to silence negativity, however valid or invalid it may seem.

Courageous or Careless

From one view, Filosa showed courage by exposing how Montreal manipulated MLS and/or Apple and limited speech. On the other hand, some fans argue he should have known inflammatory comments could threaten his contract with an image-conscious sponsor. In any case, his public allegations make it difficult for Apple and MLS to ignore the insinuations of editorial meddling. Their responses could have ripple effects across sports media partnerships. Both face scrutiny from fans valuing uncensored analysis. But Montreal may also take heat for seemingly engineering Filosa’s exit.

Soccer fan Jonathan Slape summed it up. “This is one of the dangers of the League controlling their own broadcasting,” Slape mentioned on Twitter. “It’s going to ensure the critical voices are fewer due to fear of being let go. Honestly, it’s detrimental to the growth and culture of soccer in the US and Canada.”

Those close to Filosa cite passion as both an asset and an occasional liability. While often critical, he cares deeply about Montreal’s success. By gagging Filosa, Montreal loses a candid voice with insider team knowledge. This fuels perceptions the club is thin-skinned, fearing reasonable critiques. For Filosa, losing the job still stings regardless of the cause. He gave his employer his all. But his unwavering team passion persists, albeit in a diminished role. While disappointed, Filosa remains resolved to continue multi-sport coverage at Montreal’s 98.5 FM as he has for nearly 20 years. There, he is one of the principal voices covering soccer in French Canada. For him, censoring passion is the real loss. It may be the same consequence for MLS Season Pass in losing one of its notable French commentators.