Blatter: US can't grow with only MLS
The United States needs to develop a deeper professional league system, according to FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Citing high participation rates among youth soccer players, Blatter told FOX Soccer that the current size of and reliance on Major League Soccer means there are not enough professional opportunities for the US's soccer talent.
"In such a huge country with 300 million people, if you only have one league [to go to], the professional league - MLS … then [there are very few] opportunities," Blatter explained. "There should be other leagues, and [US Soccer is trying] now to make a second league in order to inspire all these talents."
The eight-team North American Soccer League currently serves as US Soccer's second division; however, the league operated with provisional sanctioning in it's 2011 season.
The 12-team USL Professional Division operates at the third-tier.
According to Blatter, the professional structure in the United States must convert high youth participation rates into professional players.
"It is not the youth organization that is not working well," Blatter said. Once young players are developed, "it is then how to use the young players in the league, or in different leagues."
"[FIFA] just received some statistics. [Soccer is the] number one participation sport in the United States. So the youth development is well done."
"You have [produced players] a lot in developing youth football, and I would even say - girls and boys football, really - it is tremendous, the most popular game amongst youth in the county."
Speaking to FOX Soccer (in footage released Wednesday night), FIFA president Sepp Blatter reiterates FIFA is planning on a summer World Cup in Qatar.
The popularity of women's soccer is not something unique to the United States, according to Blatter, with participation in the women's game increasing all over the world.
"At the [current] time … I would say women's football participation at the level of girls and youth teams is perfect all around the world," Blatter said before echoing the issue of converting youth participation into professional players.
"But the coming into leagues, it's very difficult to have leagues in different countries, so you have countries that only have national teams but no leagues.
"You have a professional league in the US, with difficulties. But congratulations [on] what women's football has done in the United States."
Underscoring the popularity of the women's game, Blatter noted the success of the 2011 Women's World Cup.
"[Germany held] such a wonderful World Cup in the middle of Europe - in the middle of men's football [culture]," Blatter said. "This is really an achievement.
"But the world of football is still very, very men-oriented. When I was saying in  the future of football is feminine, [I was] right, because now women's football is played everywhere in the world, in all cultures."
"But women's football will never - or, not in the near future - reach the same importance [as] men's football."