FIFA's top executive blasted MLS, claiming that the league has yet to catch on as a relevant sports league in America.Apparently, Sepp Blatter isn't a fan of Major League Soccer's slow and steady development plan.
The controversial head of FIFA criticized the North American league in a interview with Al Jazeera TV, claiming that despite the league being around for almost 20 years, it had yet to make a legitimate impact on mainstream American sports fans.
"It is a question of time, I thought -- we had the World Cup in 1994," Blatter told the television network. "But it is now 18 years in so it should have been done now. But they are still struggling."
He added, "There is no very strong professional league (in the U.S.). They have just the MLS but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society."
Considering that MLS is third in all American sports in attendance with an average draw of 18,807 fans per game, Blatter's comments will likely be seen as harsh. Yet, Blatter has a point when it comes to the league's TV appeal. MLS has had a tough time drawing viewers as even David Beckham's final game in the league only had a measly 0.3 rating, much lower than an average regular season game for any of America's top sports league.
This isn't the first time that Blatter has criticized MLS. In 2009, the FIFA Chief also called out the league for its scheduling, saying that it would struggle to attract stars due to its failure to match the international calendar.
"They have to play and adapt themselves to the international calendar," Blatter said. "If they do that, they can have success. I spoke several times and I spoke on this 10 years ago when I was still secretary general and nothing has changed in the USA."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber responded by explaining that the league is still working on having each team play in a soccer specific stadium which would allow teams to make the shift. Currently, 13 out of 19 teams feature their own stadiums.