Blatter: US to benefit from 'changes'
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has renewed his call for Major League Soccer to align its regular season schedule with the FIFA calendar, saying “it would be better for US Soccer” for the domestic league to align itself with Europe’s schedule.
Speaking to FOX Soccer, Blatter revealed US Soccer had told him the league plans to keep moving toward an August-to-May schedule.
“If [US Soccer has] the courage to change, they will do it, they told me,” Blatter disclosed to FOX Soccer’s Eric Wynalda in an interview to be aired on the channel throughout the week.
“But they need some time to change that – to adapt to the international calendar. It means to the European calendar.
“It would be better for US Soccer, and specifically also for the [United States] national team. And the popularity inside the country.”
Major League Soccer’s season currently starts in March and extends into November. On Sunday, the league announced its competition format for the 2012 season, one which maintains the spring-to-fall season.
Blatter described MLS’s potential move to align itself with the international calendar as “very important.”
“[The move] was one of the key points we have discussed with the leadership of MLS and US Soccer the other day. And they are working on that.”
One difficulty Blatter cited in MLS’s move to an August format was franchise’s occupancy of National Football League stadiums.
“(MLS teams) have to play in summer because they are using the stadia of American football. And when they have their own stadium, they can change the calendar- they have to change the calendar.”
Two Major League Soccer teams continue to share facilities with NFL teams: Seattle Sounders FC (who share CenturyLink Field with the Seattle Seahawks), and the New England Revolution (who share Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots).
Blatter also cited the number of United States national team members playing in a bi-product of the league’s current scheduling format.
“Now there’s a situation that the best players, and practically the whole national team, they are playing in Europe. And this is not good for American sports. Because the American sport, they want to have their heroes at home. And therefore, this is, I would say, this is very instrumental.”