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Fan’s view: Do MLS teams deserve more charter flights?
The Seattle Sounders' goalie Kasey Keller has started an argument about increasing the number of charter flights allowed by the MLS. Although Kasey Keller originally made the comments in a video, there has been a renewed interest in the issue, and fan conversations have intensified on Oct. 11. Currently, the MLS only allows each team to have four charter flights per season.
The Past Regulations
Major League Soccer has an immense amount of control over each team's operations. In addition to the hated salary cap, the MLS has limited the number of charter flights for players. Initially, the league did not allow for any charter flights despite a challenge from the New York Red Bulls. After David Beckham joined the L.A. Galaxy, the rules changed. In 2008, the MLS agreed to allow four charter flights.
The MLS currently limits each team to four charter flights per season. The teams are not allowed to go above this number but can choose how they want to use this privilege. The number does not change even if they are involved in matches with teams outside Major League Soccer. The MLS does not want to give teams who can afford more flights an advantage.
The MLS is actually proud of its charter flight policy. Reflecting on the growth of the league, Cobi Jones noted in Aug. 2011 that the inclusion of charter flights showed that "the game is going to the next level." There has not been an official response to change the current rules.
Although I understand why players prefer charter flights and the need for them to have enough rest between games, there are several problems with this issue. If the MLS removes all the limits on charter flights, teams with more money will benefit. The issue of traveling in comfort is important for the clubs, but many fans have a hard time relating to this problem as they struggle to simply pay for life's necessities.
Although Kasey Keller has been complaining, the Seattle Sounders have taken full advantage of the MLS policy. Kasey Keller's argument included the issue of distance and how it influences the need for more comfortable flights. He believes the Sounders are at a disadvantage because of their location. Given the Sounders success this season, it does not seem to have a large impact on them. I doubt that the MLS will be changing the charter flight rules soon.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She started watching the Chicago Fire in 1998 and has been a faithful fan. Follow her @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.
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