MLS commissioner not worried about emergence of Saudi league
The addition of the Saudi Pro League to the football scene won't jeopardise the well-being of Major League Soccer, commissioner Don Garber said.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday night at the welcoming ceremony for Lionel Messi to his new MLS club, Inter Miami CF, Garber said he isn't fazed by the commitment made by the Saudi Public Investment Fund to pro soccer.
"I've seen it happen with China, and I wasn't concerned about that any more than I'm concerned about what's happening in Saudi Arabia. It's quite the opposite," Garber said.
Just as the Saudi fund poached stars from the PGA Tour and lured them to the LIV Golf League with the promise of millions, Cristiano Ronaldo has chosen to play in the Saudi League. Other stars playing in Europe have followed suit.
Still, MLS has appeal to both domestic and global audiences, Garber said, touting the league's broadcasts in other languages. Already, games are broadcast in Spanish and French.
"The fact that we can spread the power and influence of professional football around the world, I think, gives us all who are in emerging markets an opportunity," Garber said.
He added: "I think there will be more opportunity for us to be very, very targeted to specific audiences, whether that's in Portuguese or other languages."
Garber said the combined value of the league's teams is $15 billion, up from $250 million when he took over in 1999.
Bringing Messi, a native of Argentina but a global superstar, to the league won't hurt.
"When you have the best player of all time making Major League Soccer his league of choice, I think it's a real testament as to where MLS is and where it's going in the years ahead."