Don Garber

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Bend it like Beckham? How about Bend it WITH Beckham

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Why bend it like David Beckham when you can bend it WITH the MLS owner?

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David Beckham, part owner of the MLS club Inter Miami, is auctioning off a chance to take him on in a five-on-five match, part of a package that includes lunch with the English legend and a chance to watch a game from the owners’ box.

The auction is part of the league’s All In Challenge, which will raise money for organizations that are feeding the hungry during the coronavirus pandemic, including Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, America’s Food Fund, World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.

Other auctions include an opportunity to fly to Los Angeles to attend an LAFC game with comedian Will Ferrell, a part owner of that club. MLS Commissioner Don Garber is auctioning off a chance for a fan to get their name on the official MLS game ball when games resume. MLS suspended the season on March 12.

Here is the full list of auction items:

  • Play 5-on-5 with MLS, Inter Miami CF co-owner David Beckham
  • Replace Commissioner Garber’s Name On The Official MLS Match Ball + VIP All-Star Weekend Trip
  • Sit In The LAFC Owners Box With Will Ferrell
  • Fly + Stay w/ Colorado Rapids to away game + field access and more
  • Austin FC co-owner Matthew McConaughey has a Texas Longhorns offer


Report: MLS in discussions with players union over salary slash

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According to a report by ESPN FC journalist Jeff Carlisle, Major League Soccer have engaged in discussions with the players’ union regarding a potentially drastic salary reduction to help accommodate the financial situation through the coronavirus shutdown.

Carlisle cited deputy commissioner Mark Abbott with confirmation of the talks as well as an extension of the shutdown through early June.

“MLS remains focused on exploring a wide variety of formats for playing the entire 2020 season including pushing back MLS Cup into December or later,” Abbot said. “Based on the most recent government guidance, we have extended the moratorium on matches until at least June 8. Like all leagues, we are in discussion with our players about changes to player compensation due to the financial impact on the league and our clubs from the COVID-19 crisis. We are seeking to work collaboratively with the MLSPA to find a solution that provides a safety net for all players, opportunity to earn full salary in the scenario where all matches are played with fans, and in particular provides protection for the players at the lower end of the salary scale.”

Carlisle reports that MLS commissioner Don Garber, Abbott, and the MLSPA executive board were present during the meeting. While other topics were reportedly covered in the discussions, including different scenarios for returning to play and how the competition would be structured, there were also salary reduction talks which included a suggestion by the league of a 50% cut, although that significant of a slash would only be enacted in the event of total season cancellation. That number would serve as the base, with increases for how much of the season is potentially played out. Carlisle also reports that playing games behind closed doors would likely affect the amount of the salary reduction given that teams would not be receiving gate admission income. Finally, a $100,000 threshold was proposed, with players making under that amount per year not affected and players making over that amount not allowed to fall below that total.

The report states that neither the old Collective Bargaining Agreement nor the one agreed to – but never ratified – in February contains a clause allowing the league to stop salaries altogether in the event of a catastrophic event.

MLS eventually released a statement confirming the June 8 date and announcing continued discussions with the players’ union.

MLS commissioner, USSF VP, sponsors slam U.S. Soccer’s legal stance

Carlos Cordeiro
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Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and U.S. Soccer Federation vice president Cindy Cone criticized the legal stance taken by the USSF toward the women’s national team under president Carlos Cordeiro, who was coming under increasing pressure to resign.

A day after American women protested by wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out during the national anthem to obscure the federation logo, several USSF board members issued extraordinary rebukes that raised questions over whether Cordeiro retains their support.

In legal papers submitted to federal court in Los Angeles as part of the USSF’s defense of a gender discrimination suit by players on the women’s team, the USSF asserted the women have lesser physical abilities and responsibilities than their male counterparts. Several USSF sponsors issued statements backing the players, including The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., The Procter & Gamble Co. and Volkswagen Group.

Cordeiro issued a statement late during Wednesday’s game against Japan apologizing for the arguments presented in the documents and added the federation had retained new legal counsel, a move the men’s national team called “window dressing” and “a sleight of hand.”

Cordeiro’s statement did not assuage Garber, a member of the USSF board of directors and CEO of Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of both MLS and the USSF.

“I expressed to the president of the federation in no uncertain terms how unacceptable and offensive I found the statements in that filing to be,” Garber said in a statement. “Those statements do not reflect my personal view, nor do they reflect the views of the Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing families. I intend to immediately address this issue with the U.S. Soccer board of directors.”

Players filed the gender discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles last year, claiming they are paid less than their counterparts on the men’s national team. The women are seeking more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a trial is scheduled for May 5.

Cordeiro, a former Goldman Sachs partner, was elected to head the USSF two years ago. He took over from Sunil Gulati, who decided not to run for re-election after the men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Cindy Parlow Cone, a former women’s national team player re-elected as USSF vice president last month, was among those on the USSF board criticizing the federation.

“I am hurt and saddened by the brief USSF filed,” she wrote on Twitter. “This issue means so much to me, but more broadly to all men & women and, more importantly, to little girls & boys who are our future. I disavow the troubling statements and will continue to work to forge a better path forward.”

Chris Ahrens, chair of the USSF Athletes Council and a member of the U.S. team that qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Game, wrote on Twitter he was “deeply troubled, saddened and angry.”

“The Athlete Council has requested a meeting with USSF leadership and members of the legal team to demand better,” he added. “I will continue to advocate for the often forgotten about groups and work for a more inclusive organization.”

Heather O’Reilly, an Athletes Council member who was a 2015 World Cup champion, called for Cordeiro’s resignation on Twitter.

“I am part of the Athlete Council. In 2017, we decided as a group, to vote for Carlos, to take over. There was a lot of promises and hope for change. The current released statements have shown my error in judgment,” she wrote. “I think that Carlos should resign and there should be a lengthy process of reorganization at.”

The assertions by the USSF of male physical superiority and responsibility drew widespread condemnation.

“The comments made by U.S. Soccer do not align with our values, nor our point of view on women’s soccer,” Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement. “We champion and admire the athleticism of the women in this sport as we find them to be among the best athletes in the world.”

The player protest before a 3-1 victory in the SheBelieves Cup provided a visual to built-up anger. Players hid the USSF crest on the jerseys but allowed the four stars – one for each World Cup title – to be visible. The players did not smile in the pre-game team photo.

“We wanted to stand together as a team and make a statement on behalf of all women and girls hat the federation`s comments are unacceptable,” the said in the statement issued by spokeswoman Molly Levinson. “We love this sport and this country, and we cannot stand for this misogynistic treatment.”

Just before the match ended, Cordeiro issued an apology.

“The federation’s submissions in court are 100% consistent with the longstanding positions and values of federation leadership,” men’s national team players said in a statement. “The effort to blame the lawyers to appease outraged federation sponsors underlines the lack of accountability and other larger problems at U.S. Soccer. The legal strategy to demean the women’s national team and their accomplishments is consistent with the federation’s overall approach to dealing with national team players.”

Players took to social media to voice their displeasure. Christen Press posted a photo of the unsmiling team, writing: “It is the great honor of my life to play this sport and represent this country. Every woman deserves equal pay and every institution anywhere that doesn’t value women as much as men must change now.”

DaMarcus Beasley, the only American man to play in four World Cups, said he was both annoyed an disappointed.

“Respectfully, this is a terrible stance by US Soccer,” Beasley wrote. “Our women are NOT inferior to men in any sense of the word. The are Olympic gold medalists and World Cup Champions!!! And incredible women!!”

Nashville midfielder Dax McCarty, a past member of the national team, wrote on Twitter the statements were “sexist, misogynistic and tone deaf” and also “horrifying.”

In an interview following the game, Megan Rapinoe, the reigning FIFA Player of the Year, addressed young players.

“You are not lesser just because you are a girl. You are not better just because you are a boy,” she said. “We are all created equal and should all have the equal opportunity to got out and pursue our dreams.”

MLS, Nashville at odds with new mayor over stadium project

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Major League Soccer and its new Nashville team say Mayor John Cooper refused Thursday to commit to moving ahead with a stadium plan approved under the previous mayor.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and team officials met with Cooper at the league’s office Thursday in New York City to discuss the team’s stadium project. The soccer officials said they want an answer by Feb. 6.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

MLS and Nashville issued a joint statement, saying the team has worked over the past four months to improve the stadium deal with new proposals to address concerns of the mayor, who took office in late September.

The league said in the statement that Garber made clear that MLS would not have awarded Nashville an expansion team without the city’s commitment to build a soccer stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds location.

“The Mayor’s continued refusal to proceed is a deep disappointment,” the league and team said in the statement.

Cooper must approve demolition of some old exhibition buildings for construction to begin on the stadium. The team will be working with Cooper’s office over the next week trying to finalize a plan to start that phase.

“We hope for a mutually agreeable solution and expect to have an update regarding the project by February 6,” MLS and Nashville said in the statement.

Nashville is scheduled to begin its debut season Feb. 29, hosting Atlanta at Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

Nashville chief executive officer Ian Ayre said in August the project would cost at least $50 million more than original estimates and the team would be investing up to $75 million in additional money. The Metro Nashville Council approved a $275 million project in November 2017.

MLS granted Nashville an expansion franchise in December 2017 after the council’s vote.

Sacramento announced as latest MLS expansion city

Photo credit: @SacRepublicFC
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Major League Soccer is coming to Sacramento… finally.

[ MLS PLAYOFFS: LA Galaxy beat Minnesota to set up El Trafico ]

After nearly five years of waiting while flashier markets like Miami and Los Angeles scooped expansion bid after expansion bid, Sacramento was awarded an expansion franchise on Monday. Sacramento Republic FC, the existing team in USL Championship, will make the leap to MLS in 2022 in a brand new downtown stadium.

The stadium, which will be situated in the Railyards District as “a centerpiece of a redevelopment project” on the northwest corner of downtown Sacramento, will seat just over 20,000 fans and is expected to cost $300 million

[ MLS PLAYOFFS: Philly storms back from 3-1 down to beat Red Bulls in ET ]

The 20th largest media market in the United States, Sacramento sent a message to the North American soccer community in 2014 when the debut of their USL club saw a capacity crowd of more than 20,000 fans pack Hughes Stadium for the inaugural match of Sacramento Republic FC. Since then, they sold out match after match for Republic FC and established a new standard at the USL level. In the USL, Republic FC has set league records in many business metrics, including season ticket sales and merchandising, and have hosted exhibition matches against top international clubs.

With the addition of the MLS team in Sacramento, 19 clubs have joined MLS since 2005, fulfilling a vision for strategic expansion that has transformed the landscape of professional soccer across North America.  Republic FC will add another major professional sports franchise to the city, joining the National Basketball Association’s Kings. It will be the fourth MLS club in California, following the LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and LAFC.