By FRANCO PANIZO
Major League Soccer will remain under the vigilant watch of commissioner Don Garber for the foreseeable future.
Garber signed a five-year deal in January that will keep him on as MLS commissioner through the end of 2018, SI.com reported on Thursday afternoon. The 56-year-old Garber took the job back in 1999, and will have served 20 years as commissioner by the time the current contract expires.
Additionally, Garber is now cancer-free.
“It’s the first five-year deal I’ve signed in 15 years. Every other deal was a three-year deal,” Garber told SI.com. “I had always been of the mind that you sign three-year deals so you can give everybody the flexibility to determine what you want to do. The league was younger and less mature. Now we’re teeing up a long-term commitment to each other.”
With regard to his health, Garber no longer needs treatment on the prostate cancer he was diagnosed with in April. He had surgery for it in July and used August to recover, which explains why he was absent from the MLS All-Star Game in Portland and the public eye.
“I’m feeling good,” Garber said. “I took a break during the month of August that allowed me to effectively recover. Now I’m back in the saddle and energized.”
Garber has helped the league grow tremendously since he first became commissioner. MLS will field 21 teams next season, the most in league history, and there are plans to expand to 24 teams by the end of the decade.
Garber has stated that one of his goals is to have MLS transform into one of the world’s premier soccer leagues by 2022, but there is no guarantee that he will be around until then.
Still, the stability that his new deal provides him and the league will give Garber plenty of time to think about it.
“At some point in year three or four I’ll sit down and determine whether I go beyond 20 years,” said Garber. “But 20 years is a long time to do any one job.”
What do you think of Garber staying on as MLS commissioner through 2018? Like the stability for the league? Happy to know promotion-relegation aficionados will have their hearts broken for at least four more years?
Share your thoughts below.