Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber believes the quality of the sport in North America can match that in Europe.
MLS recently announced their partnership with LigaMX to host an all-star match between the two leagues in California on August 25, 2021. With over a year in the making, the widely anticipated game will mark the first time ever the two rival leagues go head-to-head in an all-star fashion.
During the press conference, Garber commented on the level of football in the region, insisting there exists the potential to compete with the highest organizations in the world.
“We want our region to become more important, with more influence on an international football stage, and there is no reason why this region North America and CONCACAF overall shouldn’t be as strong and as valuable as CONMEBOL, CAF in Africa or UEFA. but for that to happen, we need the two largest leagues in the region to keep collaborating,” said Garber.
After the announcement, Garber tapped into the marketing potential of the match, claiming it will increase the name factor of the American league thanks to the Mexican audience. He also hoped the match could spark future endeavors between MLS and LigaMX to raise the standard of North American football.
This new cross-border format is the latest clash between CONCACAF’s top two leagues, having been involved in the Campeones Cup and the Leagues Cup together.
LigaMX president Mikel Arriola agreed, adding that there’s an opportunity to capitalize on the exponential growth the Mexican league has seen over the years. He continued by stating that the increase in viewership from the collaboration can have a greater impact on the league beyond ratings.
“During the last 12 years, we’ve had an annual growth of five percent,” Arriola said. “With the capacity the league has, we could begin to grow on a yearly basis the way they do in Europe, which is between 12 and 13 percent a year, or at least increase and match the rhythm of the MLS’ growth of 20 percent annually. Our football can impact on a larger scale that will allow us to better other elements and integrate better foreign players and basic forces.”
The most shocking quote of the night came as Garber answered the commonly asked question and longstanding rumor of a potential merger between the two leagues.
“If it makes sense at the right time, then we’ll take that step,” he concluded.