MLS to Blatter: "Come to a Game"
January 3, 2013
(WFI) Commissioner Don Garber says Major League Soccer will invite Sepp Blatter to opening weekend after the FIFA president’s recent criticism of MLS.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber (Getty)
“I look forward to having the president and other FIFA executives attend an MLS game,” Garber told MLSsoccer.com late Wednesday.
“I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how far the league has come.”
The commissioner’s comments come after Blatter said Saturday in an interview on Al Jazeera TV that USA is “still struggling” to develop MLS into a legitimate professional league on the heels of hosting the 1994 World Cup.
Soccer is USA’s most popular sport in terms of youth participation, said the Swiss, but the country still lacks the football frenzy present throughout much of the rest of the world.
Notably, the creation of MLS was actually a condition from FIFA for the awarding of the 1994 World Cup.
Over the years since, Blatter has repeatedly insisted the MLS change its March-October season to better fit with the August-May international calendar, a timetable that would clash with the National Football League, some of whose stadiums MLS teams still share.
Garber said Wednesday that Blatter, who hasn’t attended an MLS match since the 1996 All-Star Game, will be welcome at any of the nine matches on March 2 and 3 – or any throughout the rest of the reason.
“If he were to come to a game – whether it be in Seattle, Portland, Toronto, LA, Philadelphia, New York or any of our MLS markets – I think he would be very pleasantly surprised to see the passion that exists in our fan base and the high level of soccer IQ that exists in our fan base,” the commissioner was quoted by MLS.com.
“I’m totally convinced that by working together, we’ll be the league that everybody wants us to be,” Garber added.
By INSIDER's Matthew Grayson
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