Major League Soccer (MLS) players and owners recently agreed to a bargaining agreement that will allow the soccer season to begin on time. The player’s union had voted in a landslide to go on strike. In fact, the vote was 383 to 2 according to sources. So, it would have happened if the owners didn’t sign on to the agreement. Unlike other major sports league in the United States, soccer has never had a strike season, an attribute to both players and owners. It definitely does not need one either!
MLS cannot afford to have a lockout season. For one, soccer has flourished in the United States ever since its inception in 1996. Before that time, pro soccer was none existent in North America. So, there is no need for the sport to revert back to its growing years when it was struggling to get people in stadium seats. In fact, this is the second go around for soccer in the US.
The first time pro soccer was attempted in North America it failed, miserably. As a result, there were no other attempts until recently when the US national team began to do well on the world stage in World Cup qualifying matches and the World Cup. We should therefore give credit to the Bruce Arena’s and other coaches before him who helped paved the way for the successful rebirth of soccer in the United States.
Major League Soccer is so popular in the US now that top pro players all over the world are coming to the States to play soccer. David Beckham is one such player, who is playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, a US-based pro soccer team. He is practically a legend in British soccer, appearing in World Cups after World Cups for the country.
Soccer needs the United States. The more popular soccer is in the US the more revenue will be generated. Revenue can be obtained from soccer merchandising, advertising, marketing, TV network deals, and so on. The potential market for soccer in North America is therefore enormous. It is like a gold mine waiting to be discovered. Having soccer players from other countries play in the United States, help build the credibility and perception of quality soccer in the US.
Top teams from powerful soccer countries, such as Brazil and England play meaningful games against MLS teams. The most recent was Santos, a top Brazil pro soccer team that played the New York Red Bulls, New York’s own pro soccer team, based in New Jersey. The game was the inaugural first game ever played in the new Red Bull Multimillion dollar stadium. To say the least, the game was more than anyone could have ever expected; it was very exciting and competitive with back and forth action that kept die-hard soccer fans on the edge of their seats. To the delight of the American soccer fans, the Red Bulls won the game 3-1 over Santos.
The real winner was American Major League soccer. Occurrences such as the one mentioned above brings credibility to US soccer. The fact that the Red Bulls were competitive and even beat the Brazilians, showed that American soccer has truly come of age.
Therefore, whatever soccer governing body, owners, players, coaches, and referees can do to preserve the growth of soccer in North America, they should all do it without hesitation. When there is a disagreement between players and owners in regards to revenue sharing, such disagreements should not be allowed to result in the stoppage of play because if this is allowed to happened, pro soccer in the United States will suffer severely.
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Glenford S Robinson is a Clinical Lab Scientist, Expert Author, and President of MSTARDOM.