MLS commissioner Don Garber touched on many topics during his 40-minute talk at the 2016 Michigan Sports Business Conference, including some that are very near and dear to American soccer fans.
In his talk, which ranged from discussing the success of the NFL and his relationship with its commissioner Roger Goodell, to the question of implementing promotion and relegation into American soccer, Garber sought to give advice to those looking to break into the sports business industry.
On promotion and relegation in American soccer:
Sorry fans of promotion and relegation in MLS, Garber thoroughly shot down the idea. While it doesn’t rule out promotion and relegation in the longer term, it does put a damper on the prospects of a near-future implementation.
On the U.S. potentially hosting the 2026 World Cup:
While not an outright statement of an incoming bid from the U.S., the vague 10-year time-frame provides an interesting tidbit that appears to lean in that direction. With Europe and Asia eliminated from hosting, CONCACAF has only Oceania, South America, and Africa to bid against. With South Africa having recently hosted in 2010, and the surely tantalizing option of hosting the 100th anniversary 2030 World Cup in South America where it started, 2026 seems very likely for the U.S. if they go for it.
On athletes and activism and Megan Rapinoe’s anthem protest:
Garber’s answer to this issue was guaranteed to incite anger on one side of the debate or the other. Social activists will be pleased to hear that the commissioner spends time dwelling on the issue, but may find his statement on Rapinoe less pleasing.
On the long-term goals of MLS:
While not as brash as claiming to be a top league in the next 10 years, as he’s done previously, Garber still has lofty goals for MLS. The commissioner reiterated the league’s goal of becoming a top soccer league in the world eventually, both in competition and consumerism, and wants to compete with the multi-billion dollar Premier League internationally.