FIFA World Cup Qualifying Seen As Crucial Juncture For USSF President Sunil Gulati
The U.S. men's national soccer team is in the midst of its qualifying campaign for the '14 World Cup in Brazil, and "much is at stake" for U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. That is in part because U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann's base salary is $2.5M -- "about four times more" than the salary for his predecessor, Bob Bradley. The investment in Klinsmann "runs deep." Aside from the "millions it would collect by qualifying for the World Cup, the USSF would retain bargaining power in negotiations" with Nike and Soccer United Marketing, which owns national team marketing rights. Those deals are "worth a combined" $21M annually and expire in December '14. If things "turn sour, the USSF might have to consider replacing Klinsmann in order to salvage the World Cup effort, and as an extension, its financial agreements" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/22).
GIVE ME A BREAK: NBCSPORTS.com's Steve Davis wrote it is "just not right" that MLS will continue to play over the weekend, despite many top players being away at FIFA World Cup qualifiers and friendlies. It is wrong for MLS to "position itself on one hand as a wanna-be top league around the world -- but on the other hand plow stubbornly through competitive matches as clubs do without their valuable difference makers, the men away on international duty." Besides not "being fair to ticket buyers and being a drag on quality (which ultimately affects everything), it just doesn’t feel right." The problem is that "going dark on more weekends means adding more of pesky mid-week matches." Or "expanding the playing window further still." But starting in March and ending in December "looks like plenty to most of us." Dynamo President Chris Canetti said that the nine-month window is "stretched too far already." Too many MLS markets "still have trouble selling mid-week matches," but that is "changing." As more high-quality talent "migrates into MLS, more players will come up missing on these FIFA dates." So we are "not just talking about a few American stars" (NBCSPORTS.com, 3/19).