EDITORIAL – So let me get this straight — the opinions of U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann were so severe that Don Garber had to field an embarrassing impromptu press call to address the situation, but no one is coming forward to clarify this New York City FC Frank Lampard debacle?
If ever there was a time for Garber to demonstrate his promise of transparency, this is it.
We are now on the third day of Lampardgate, and all anyone can come up with is conjecture and secondary reporting to explain the entire mess. By now, it is almost an accepted fact that Lampard never had a contract with New York City FC. That, in turn, means Lampard never had a contract with Major League Soccer. That means both NYCFC and MLS have lied to us.
All of us.
And no one is answering for their role.
People can grind their axe against NYCFC all they want, but MLS is complicit in this entire fiasco, and that alone should require some form of response.
So why is everyone so quiet?
Is it the embarrassment of MLS starting their 20th year by feeding into their interminable minor league image? Are both organizations just tossing the ball around to figure out who will fall on their sword for the greater good of American soccer?
The silence is deafening, and the only folks who are made to suffer are those who support the beautiful game across America. Oh yes, this is bigger than just the Third Rail. This is larger than the nearly 12,000 season ticket holders who have plunked down their nonrefundable deposits to support a second New York team. This is bigger than New York soccer.
Lampardgate is about MLS. About American soccer. NYCFC aren’t the only ones made to look like second class “Citizens” in this entire affair. On their 20th anniversary, and just seven short years from Garber’s goal to make the league a global player, MLS is looking as plastic and propped up as ever, quietly sitting in a $100 million dollar cash pool while City Football Group circumvents Fair Play rules to meet their own ends.
No wonder Garber was so elusive about the Lampard situation in his recent Reuters interview. “All player personnel decisions are made by the club. I have great confidence in the management in New York and the ownership and their representatives,” he said. “I am sure in due time they will be able to deal with this issue but it is not something that the league is going to weigh in on in any way.” Nevermind the fact that all player contracts get ratified by the MLS offices. Nevermind the long and illustrious history of MLS involvement in player acquisition (Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley anyone?!).
Yes, player personnel decisions were taken by NYCFC — but when was MLS going to tell us they weren’t in the loop?
At this point, media members have grown accustomed to the clandestine operations of NYCFC. Whether by choice, lack of infrastructure, or mandate, New York’s latest professional franchise has kept everything close to the vest. Even the simplest requests seem to go ignored and unexplained — and frustratingly so.
Sadly, this behavior has come to be accepted.
MLS, however, has no excuse. NYCFC is making a laughing stock of the league with this Lampard situation and the controversy deserves more response then Garber washing his hands of the entire affair. Instead of celebrating 20 years of growth in the domestic professional soccer realm, we are reminded just how far off MLS is from being a global player.
That seems slightly more detrimental than Klinsmann encouraging players to test themselves in the highest levels of professional soccer, doesn’t it?
Someone needs to take a leadership role. Someone has to take responsibility. Someone has to speak for this black eye on MLS and American soccer.
Now who is it going to be? The MLS Commissioner? Or the tone deaf people who tweeted this mere hours after their franchise was dragged through the mud?
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) January 1, 2015