FIFA President Sepp Blatter Blasts Growth Of MLS During TV Interview
FIFA President Sepp Blatter "took a sharp jab at Major League Soccer during a television interview this weekend, saying it has yet to catch on as a legitimate professional league in the United States," according to ESPN.com. Blatter suggested that the MLS "has failed to generate much interest among mainstream American sports fans." He said, "It is a question of time, I thought -- we had the World Cup in 1994. But it is now 18 years in so it should have been done now. But they are still struggling." Blatter added, "There is no very strong professional league (in the U.S.). They have just the MLS but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society." Blatter previously has "taken pokes at the MLS, among them the beef that it will struggle to prod star players to head to the U.S. unless it matches its season to those in Europe." He has repeatedly called for the league to "adopt an August-May schedule, saying that the current March-October season was the overwhelming reason that the MLS cannot compete with Europe's top leagues" (ESPN.com, 12/30). In N.Y., Andrew Das writes Blatter's comments "will of course come as a surprise to the fans and the cities where MLS is, well, recognized." Or to the clubs "in England and Italy and Germany that have hired players who got their start in MLS." Or to "top players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry who have made very good livings in the league in recent years." There may be a "ring of truth to what Blatter said: MLS is not considered on par with the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball and [the NHL] in the American sports landscape." Das: "But is that a fair comparison, given that the other four had a head start of at least a half-century?" (NYTIMES.com, 12/31).
STAR SEARCH: In L.A., Kevin Baxter noted the MLS Galaxy are "deep in talks with representatives" for EPL club Chelsea MF Frank Lampard. He will be a free agent this summer but yesterday said that he "hasn't discussed a new deal with his English Premier League team for at least two weeks." The "transfer window opens Tuesday." The Galaxy said that privately it believes Lampard "could provide some of the international star power the team lost" when Beckham retired. A Galaxy official said that the team also "remains interested in [Real Madrid MF] Kaka and will revisit that idea again next year" (LATIMES.com, 12/30).