When it comes to inserting one's metaphorical foot in their mouth, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is in a class of his own.
Blatter has stirred quite a few controversies during his 14-year tenure as the head of the soccer world's governing body. After a knockout match between Portugal and the Netherlands at the 2006 World Cup, Blatter lambasted official Valentin Ivanov's performance, a move that would typically get a football official into hot water. Further, the president found himself at the end of quite a few condemnations last year when he said that racism was not a problem in football.
Now, Blatter has decided to make another comment that will be sure to anger members of the footballing world.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Blatter took a few shots at Major League Soccer, the United States' biggest football league, claiming that it has yet to catch on as a legitimate professional league.
The FIFA president went on to say:
The problem in the United States is a little bit different. Soccer, as they call football there, is the most popular game in the youth. It’s not American football or baseball, it is soccer. But there is no very strong professional league, they have just the MLS. They have not professional leagues that are recognized by the American society.
It is a question of time, I thought, when we had the World Cup in 1994, but now we are 18 years in and it should have been done now. They are still struggling.
As opposed to Blatter's views, many have praised the league's progression over the past few years since David Beckham came to the league, including Becks himself. The attendance figures back these suggestions, as the average has risen from 15,504 in 2006 to a record 18,807 this season.
The truly incredible thing about Blatter's comments, though, is that they do nothing but hinder the development of the sport in a region where he has been seeking growth. Even if he is unhappy with the speed at which the MLS has been expanding its fanbase, saying so in an interview is just counterintuitive. After all, why would a person want to be a fan of a league that is discredited by the head of the sport?
With this in mind, it's safe to say that Sepp has stepped in it again.
The MLS, the United States Soccer Federation and all American fans of the sport thank you greatly for your service to the cause, Mr. Blatter.
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