Corruption Isn’t The Only Problem At FIFA

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


It is no secret that FIFA is corrupt and under investigation. With their election coming up in a few weeks 60 Minutes took the time to remind us just how bad and almost comical it is.

FIFA on 60 Minutes

The sad thing about this is that corruption isn’t the only issue facing FIFA. Sexism is a major issue as well.

Former President Sepp Blatter, who is now banned and under investigation in a couple of countries, once said that women could ‘have tighter shorts’ when asked on how to promote the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

FIFA has also been accused of not taking racism seriously enough. While it will implement racism monitoring at 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, many feel FIFA hasn’t gone far enough in discouraging the practice of racism in the game.

So when you see something about the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, or UFC just remember….it’s not as bad as FIFA.

MLS Player Movements in 12 Easy Steps

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By Dave Trausneck @trausneck

Sideline Signals recently highlighted the recent comments by FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his criticism of Major League Soccer.  Blatter said it’s been 18 years since the United States hosted the World Cup and the country still does not have a strong professional league.

But it’s not for a lack of ways a player can join the league.  A simple glance of MLS’ roster rules for 2012, and you may need more than a high word score on your SAT to understand the complexities of MLS as compared to the rest of the world.

The more notable professional leagues around the world have a simplistic way of dealing with player movement.

They are…

  1. Signing a youth player into their academy and developing him from a young age.
  2. Paying a transfer fee to another club to acquire the rights to a player. (For example, Real Madrid paying Manchester United 80 million British Pounds in 2009 for Christiano Ronaldo.)
  3. Loaning a player out to another club. (Often done by bigger clubs with massive rosters and good players who are not getting as much playing time.  They loan players to smaller clubs in lower divisions, with certain stipulations.)

Major League Soccer is different, and possibly because the league owns all the player contracts, not the club.  Here’s how players may join a MLS club

1. SuperDraft

(Most of the eligible players are the top collegiate seniors, and some top underclassmen known as Generation adidas players.)

2. Expansion Draft

(Only done when a team joins MLS, like Portland, Vancouver and Montreal in the past few seasons)

3. Allocation Ranking

(Teams are given a ranking in reverse order from the previous season’s finish. When a US Men’s National Team player leaves a foreign league to play in MLS, the teams with the worst record the year before get first crack in acquiring the player.

4. Designated Players

(Players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane command high salaries. In order to lure them to MLS, the league allows teams to only count a fraction of that salary toward the team’s salary cap.  The league has to pay the rest, which can be in the millions.)

5. Player trades between MLS clubs

6. Discovery claims

(Clubs may make a “discovery claim” on a player who does not have an MLS contract, and are not part of the league’s allocation ranking.  In short, this allows teams to call “dibs” on a player.

7. Homegrown player

(Similar to international clubs signing a youth player, this allows MLS clubs to sign the top youth players in their area and get around the draft process.

8. Re-entry draft

(Players who no longer have a MLS club to play for can re-enter the league with a different team through the re-entry draft.)

9. Claim player off MLS waiver.

10. Weighted lottery

(Generation adidas players who sign with MLS after the draft can join a team through a lottery. Teams with worse records have a better chance. The most recent example was Portland winning the lottery for Mobi Fehr. The other two teams in the lottery were San Jose and Seattle.)

11. Extreme hardships

12. Injury Replacements

(Both of these are available to clubs when their rosters are extremely depleted due to injuries.)

This complex set of rules isn’t to suggest MLS has to bend over backwards just to field a viable league.  Merely, it suggests league officials who oversee competition have to work harder to make sure the league has parity, and the same teams are not the only teams competing for a championship year after year.

Of note, former Real Salt Lake Forward Robbie Findley was released by Nottingham Forrest last week which clears his way back to MLS. Although the Portland Timbers hold his rights they apparently traded them back to Real Salt Lake. Everyone paying attention?

FIFA Chief Bashes MLS

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Sepp Blatter is the head of FIFA which is the world governing body of football (or soccer). He recently laid the wood to MLS in a recent interview on Al Jazerra TV. While Blatter has been the head of FIFA since 1998 and no doubt has a tough job he obviously has no idea about how to do business in North America.

Sepp Blatter on Al Jazeera

In North America, the MLS competes with the following sports for attention, space and airtime; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL (When they play), College Football, and Mixed Martial Arts. That’s a pretty good set of competition. No other country in the world has that much competition and in every other country, except a few, football is the 800 pound gorilla. Not so in North America. That title belongs to the NFL or football as it’s called here.

Blatter said that it’s been 18 years since the US hosted the World Cup and still does not have a strong professional league. In that time the MLS was formed and launched. It has expanded to 19 teams with 14 of those playing in their own soccer specific stadiums. Another team moving into it’s own stadium in the next year (San Jose) and the 2 others that share stadiums with professional football teams (Seattle and Vancouver). These last 2 teams also rank 1st and 6th in attendance respectively.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber is a very smart guy. He came from the NFL so he knows what MLS is up against. He knows that MLS could not survive if it went to the normal FIFA schedule which is from August-May and competed directly with the NFL, NBA, College Football and NHL. He also knows, and has said in interviews, no one is going to go to a New England Revolution game in Foxboro, MA in January or February. They barley go right now during the summer (they are also one of the teams without a soccer specific stadium). MLS’s best bet is to keep it’s current schedule, take on Major League Baseball during the summer and the occasional UFC event.

Blatter does not understand that. He has a one size fits all mentality. While he wants the game to succeed he does not understand how to do that in North America. Don Garber does. We can only hope that Blatter takes Garber up on his offer to go to an MLS match the opening weekend of the season. The word “hope” might be a stretch here too considering that Blatter has dismissed the use of goal line technology, replay and has been accused of corruption charges more times than…well probably anybody.

But we can always hope.