Following speculation that MLS is interested in expanding into the southeast United States, the league has announced plans to put a new club in "the city that hates soccer the most." Though the exact location of this new team has yet to be determined, the declaration is sure to court controversy. But the league sees it as an aggressive way to push its development and expansions in new territories.
"The league has grown leaps and bounds in a relatively short period," said MLS commissioner Don Garber. "We have a team in just about every major soccer friendly city in the country, so now it's time to go after some areas where the game isn't as popular. And to make something of a statement, we've decided to locate the U.S. city that hates soccer the most — probably somewhere in Alabama — and put a team there to let everyone know that our league is here and this sport isn't going anywhere."
As Garber went on to say, this is only the beginning of the plan, though.
"We're going to actively antagonize any American with an irrational hatred of the sport with this team. It will be called 'Communism United,' their colors will be pink and rainbow, they will try to play to a 0-0 draw in every home match and diving will be rewarded with monetary bonuses for the players. It will be exactly like that bit about soccer in The Simpsons that everyone always references except over 90 minutes. We will also pursue a deal with the local government so residents of the city will be forced to attend matches like jury duty. In short, we're going to bring all their dumb arguments against the game to life and forcibly desensitize them to it all. Then after a few years we'll let them have a name and identity of their choosing and the 'haters' will hopefully be able to recognize and appreciate the difference between the realities of the game and their exaggerated misconceptions. I mean, if these people can watch NASCARs go around in a circle for three hours, they clearly have the ability to recognize the finer points that make a sport entertaining when they want to."
The slow psychological conditioning of new fans is a method that MLS knows will be risky from a business stand-point, but they're confident that the league's national support will carry the team through those initial years.
"Though the team won't get much voluntary local support at first, we believe soccer fans around the country who have endured years of jokes, insults and ill-informed arguments from their friends and neighbors will rally around this club, buying the shirts and scarves and watching on television out of the strongest emotions known to man: delight in the ironic and schadenfreude. We foresee this team being very profitable and a great aide in changing preconceived notions. But even if that doesn't happen, we'll at least annoy some people and that's fun too."
- Sports & Recreation
- southeast United States