Thursday, January 5, 2017

China Poised to Beat MLS on Global Reputation

Carlos Tevez of the Shangai Shenhua
After reading the latest from the New York Times on China's plans for improving as a soccer nation and competing globally for world status, it's safe to say that China is one more thorn in the side of MLS's challenge to become recognized as a soccer super power. As of now, most pundits would consider the soccer super powers to be the English Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain) and Bundesliga (Germany). Notches below the super powers are most likely considered Ligue 1 (France), Serie A (Italy) and Liga MX (Mexico). It seems MLS is fighting to be on par with these leagues below the super powers, but, are not quite there yet, even according to their own commissioner, Don Garber. 

Really, we already knew of China's potential to become a soccer super power. The Times article only solidifies what we already knew and shows us how much their government is willing to get involved to prove it. There are multiple offers from Chinese clubs out there every day to appeal for star players. It is rumored that Cristiano Ronaldo turned down 300 million to play in China. One star player who would have been an outstanding attraction for the MLS audience is Carlos Tevez, the Argentine striker. He is signed, sealed and delivered to Shanghai Shenhua.

MLS has done a fair job in branding its league here in the U.S. and it will continue to do so. However, it is painfully obvious, that this league will never be the best the sport of soccer has to present to the world in the next 50 years or so, like its counterparts, the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL have achieved. Currently, each of these other mainstream U.S. team sports leagues are considered the best of the world, and, they are likely to stay that way for years to come.

China pretty much guarantees MLS will stay on as a niche league from the world's perspective. Chinese teams will continue to outbid MLS teams for prime players and its league will continue to improve with homegrown talent as the country builds from within, with its government plans. The majority of revenue that MLS brings in will more than likely always stay from U.S. consumers, not from abroad.

MLS must come to terms with this reality. MLS is unlikely to become a soccer super power and will have to rely on rivalries from teams in the U.S. and Canada to push on fans to use as the energy and enthusiasm for the league.

If the natural rivalries of idealistic professional soccer won't cut it, then, MLS must step up and brand its own game further. If MLS can't ever be the best of the world, but wants to appeal in an American way, then stay American. The consumers of the league are not going anywhere. If the public wants more scoring and more great saves from goalkeepers, or the public wants to see players at their best without being exhausted, then institute more substitutions and innovate new heights for goalposts. Don't be bashful MLS, do what you have to do for your American audience, the Chinese audience won't be watching and won't care at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment