Friday, January 9, 2015
Will Muslim Strife in Europe Cause Defections to MLS?
The incident in Paris two days ago is very different than what happened during 2013's Boston Marathon. There are similarities in that it appears to be lone terrorists acting out, but the big difference is the assault on freedom of speech that Charlie Hebdo represents. This act of violence represents a much larger problem that is pervasive in Europe now and not pervasive at all in the U.S.
(The situation is reminiscent of the London riots a few years ago that put England in the spotlight-Will England riots put EPL at risk?)
There is a much bigger Muslim population in Europe than in the U.S. This fact alone is what is driving a lot of fear and disruption to the way of life in Europe. Freedom of speech, arguably, is the most important fundamental right that human beings have in the world. If people have to constantly watch what they're saying than there is an obvious level of discomfort.
Soccer players want to play in the best leagues and want to play without irritation off the field. If events in Europe continue to spread negatively regarding the Islamic situation, than players may end up deciding that they would rather play in the U.S. or other leagues in Mexico or South America. I believe they are most apt to want to play in MLS.
MLS offers decent skill challenges and the money can be ripe for the taking. Outside of playing in MLS, living in the U.S. offers all the comforts and glory that Europe has, but without all the lingering conflict brought about by Islamic tension. In the U.S., life is pretty easy and carefree.
Obviously, the best players in European leagues are not going to start walking out of their contracts because of what happened a couple days ago in Paris. But, when the next contract negotiations come around, they may end up considering cutting a year or two down from the amount of years they had thought about playing in Europe before the Muslim strife became so hostile.
Most of these well-known players are coming to MLS or the New York Cosmos in their mid-thirties. It may be that this 'Muslim strife' factor has them coming a couple years earlier than planned.
The decision-making to come to MLS sooner rather than later may mean that U.S. soccer fans see great international players while they are still in dominating form on the field.