MLS commissioner Don Garber says he is opposed to the idea of a biennial World Cup, saying the idea has "no practicality to it".
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been pushing for the World Cup to be held every two years, even as European clubs have voiced opposition. Speaking to reporters via Zoom during his annual State of the League address, Garber said that while he feels the FIFA president is doing a good job, but that he is against the idea, while adding that stakeholders should have more say as to whether the idea is implemented.
"There's no practicality to it, and in my personal view, I think it dilutes what I think is the best sports event in the world," said Garber about a proposed biennial World Cup. "I sit on the World League Forum Executive Committee. We just had an announcement that was made last week.
"The World League Forum is not in support of a biennial World Cup. The impact that has on our players, on our clubs, and our leagues is something that we think would not be worth what it would take in order to, in some people's view, grow the popularity of the sport, whether it's here or any other place around the world."
Garber said he understood the motivation behind FIFA's desire to grow revenue and distribute those funds to developing soccer countries, but that there are other ways to achieve that goal without changing the frequency with which the World Cup is held.
On the expansion front, Garber said that Las Vegas is the frontrunner to be the league's 30th team, and that discussions with Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens are ongoing. But he added that the league is also in discussions with Phoenix and San Diego.
"We're excited about the market as are all leagues here in North America," Garber said. "Wes is a guy that we all have long standing relationships with, and by the way, he had looked at other MLS clubs over the years. We'll continue those discussions and continue to try to get something done within the next 10 months."
Garber added that there isn't a timetable yet for when that team would begin play, but he said it won't happen before 2024. He also said that a potential move of Major League Baseball's the Oakland A's to Las Vegas "will have no impact on our plans, whatsoever."
Garber also addressed the ongoing effort to find an owner for Real Salt Lake. The league took over the sales process from current owner Dell Loy Hansen after it emerged that he had made racist comments and overseen a toxic workplace culture. Garber said that the league continues "to be engaged in discussions with potential owners." Sportico had previously reported that a group that includes Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils co-owner David Blitzer was close to a deal.
"I'm hopeful that we'll be able to get something closed," he said. "We had a timetable to get that done by the end of the year. We'll see if that's still achievable. That's only a couple of weeks away. If not, I'm hopeful we'll get something done soon."
The league's current media rights deal will expire at the conclusion of the 2022 season. (ESPN is among the broadcasters bidding for the rights).Garber said he has "every expectation" that a new deal will be finalized up during the first quarter of 2022.
"We've been out in the market with an unprecedented package [of] rights that will include every MLS game, whether it be a local game, national game, and international games, out of market, or whether it be linear or streaming," he said. "There'll be more details to come."