The only chance for professional soccer to succeed in the U.S. is to deeply change it!
What more could professional women players have done than to win the World Cup and the Gold Medal at the Olympic Games to prevent their federation from going bankrupt? Nothing. It's the mechanism in which soccer works in the U.S. that is deeply wrong!
What more could professional men players have done than to reach the quarter finals in the last World Cup and demonstrate that they can compete with European Clubs, after their good performance last month against Chelsea, A.C. Milan and Real Madrid? Nothing. The San Jose Earthquakes, who won the National Title two consecutive times, still only have 8,000 spectators and this number is decreasing. Again, it's the way in which soccer is conceived at a professional level that is wrong!
There's an elementary concept missing. THE PYRAMID.
The pyramid of value.
In every country in Europe that has an important soccer reality, there are 3, sometimes 4, levels of professional teams.
You can call the highest level La Liga, or Serie A, or Eredivisie, or Bundesliga, or Le Championat, or Premiere League. It's not important. What is important is that there are A, B, C, and sometimes D, of professional levels with PROMOTION at the upper levels or RELEGATION to the lower levels, clearly connected with the performance on the field. This is the only way to create other professional teams to increase the unacceptable number of MLS League (12 teams) in a nation with 17 million soccer players spread over 50 states.
If a Franchise starts from the bottom of the pyramid as a semi-professional team, with an affordable budget, in a few years they can climb the pyramid and reach the MLS, increasing the budget gradually with the help of sponsors. This will work. On the contrary, starting from the top, where can you find 20 or 30 million dollars out of the blue?
PROMOTION and RELEGATION are unknown concepts in the U.S. In any sport. The pyramid doesn't exist. There are no A or B levels. Everyone is the best. Result? Everyone is no one! How could it be possible that everyone is the best? In the name of an artificial equality a sport is forbidden to grow.
Another absurd aspect is that the top teams don't raise new talent. Don't have dozens of youth teams that compete at state and national levels. They simply pick the best players from colleges or players from other countries who can barely play there at a B level!
It's very clear where the mistake is. The top teams that in Europe invest millions of Euros in raising new generations of players, are allowed to put them under contract and when they're 17 or 18, they're inserted into the first team or traded with other teams. It's this simple mechanism that holds the structure of the pyramid. Outstanding 18 or 19 year old players don't play at college for friends and parents. They make millions playing for Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, A.C. Milan, Juventus and other hundreds of teams!
Entering into this mechanism means interacting with the most important clubs in the world and in less than 10 years we'd see the actual Beckham, Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldino, Owen, Figo, etc., come to play in the U.S. at 20 or 22 not at 35 or 36 at the end of their career, like Pele` or Beckenbauer in the past and maybe Beckham when he's 35. This 'import' of international stars, in exchange for 'local' stars, would bring 50/60 thousand spectators to the stadium and finally convince the TV networks that soccer, too, is a great business.
There are other 'revolutions' that have to happen.
SPONSORS ON THE JERSEYS. This is fundamental for raising millions every season.
High school and college soccer.
These two subjects will be the topic of another news letter.
What I've underlined is only the tip of the iceberg.
Posted on 18 Aug 2005 by coachgianni