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Comedian Carey seriously into soccer
by Ridge Mahoney, January 30th, 2008 11:45AM

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From fan to photographer to investor, entertainer Drew Carey has steadily increased his emotional - and financial - commitment to soccer. He's a minority partner in the Seattle MLS franchise, intends to attend as many matches as his schedule allows, and vows not to thumped again by Landon Donovan when they tangle on the video screen. Carey took time from his work on the "Power of 10" and "The Price is Right" television programs to answer some questions by e-mail.

Was the 2006 tournament your first World Cup? What did that event illustrate most vividly to you about the game?
DREW CAREY:
Yes. I learned that the Super Bowl is nothing but a big lie. In the World Cup, there's three Super Bowls a day [in the first round] for two weeks. Followed by knockout games that are bigger than the Super Bowl will ever be, because the NFL isn't that popular outside of North America.

There's no way to over-exaggerate the magnitude of the World Cup. Of course, not many people discuss the World Cup commercials as much as they do the Super Bowl commercials, so the NFL wins there.

What has MLS done wrong since it launched and what is it doing right to attract such a diverse, not to mention rich, group of investors?
I think it's made great moves, in general. I like that they operate with the idea that they're going to be around for a long time, instead of going for the quick buck. That makes it attractive to me as an investor.

Yes, they want to make money now, but they're always trying to make sure that the league is going to be viable when my grandkids have families of their own.

Why invest? Why not just go to games, shoot pictures, laugh it up, and enjoy your time away from your real job(s)?
I was mostly interested in spreading the gospel of fan control over the team's management, like they have at Real Madrid and Barcelona. It had nothing, really, to do with wanting to own a business.

Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, and the rest of the ownership group should all be commended for buying into it. I'll always be grateful to them for being willing to give this a try in the United States. Although, it's not like it's a crazy experiment. All the experimenting has been done by these two billion-dollar-plus sports franchises in Spain, and it works out great. I feel that if it's good enough for two of the biggest sports franchises in the world, it should be good enough for us.

How much power do you think fans should have as paying, vote-wielding members?
We're working out the details right now, but this we're sure of: Every four years, there will be an election held for General Manager of our team and whoever the fans vote for will be the General Manager. That's what we all want.

We're still discussing details, such as whether the vote will be by plurality or simple majority, the mechanics of how someone can get themselves on the ballot to run against the current General Manager, and things like that. It's like inventing a government for a brand new country. It's been a very exciting process.

Will recalls of top executives be on your list of demands?
I hope that's going to be part of our plan, yes. Right now we're discussing a mechanism where the fans (or the owners), can demand a recall of the General Manager if he/she turns out to be some kind of disaster and is clearly ruining the team. It's an ongoing part of the discussion as we develop our membership program.

Do you have a suggestion for the Seattle team nickname or does Sounders work for you?
Can't we talk about getting rid of Social Security, or national health care or something? Something that won't cause such a fight when I get together with the other owners?

Should all teams be required to include pubs in their stadium designs, a la Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston? Should team scarves be mandatory attire?
In Seattle, I don't think we'll need to mandate anything like drinking or scarves. It would be like requiring that everyone keep an umbrella handy in case it rains. Although, a pub inside the stadium is a great idea. I'll take it up with Paul Allen the next time we shoot darts together.

How cognizant, if at all, of American pro soccer were you during the days of the NASL, or did you think it was some kind of decongestant spray?
I loved Kyle Rote, Jr. on "Superstars." That was about it.

Did you ever receive any feedback from that open letter you sent criticizing German soccer to the German magazine kicker? From the DFB? Bundesliga? Interpol?
Other than an odd beep on my phone every few minutes, no.

ESPN has replaced Eric Wynalda with John Harkes and Bruce Arena for its domestic soccer telecasts. What can be done to soccer broadcasts to emulate the production values of major sports telecasts?
Hmm. A statement followed by a question. I don't know anything about what happened to Eric Wynalda, but I thought he was fine. And I loved that he had such strong opinions. I hope John Harkes and Bruce Arena don't pull any punches when they're in the booth. I like that kind of reporting in sports.

As far as emulating other sports telecasts, I think ESPN did it great this past season. I loved their Thursday night games. It will just take time to pay for production values like that from everyone that broadcasts a soccer game. But it will happen.

How will you take vengeance on Landon Donovan in '08 for thumping you at FIFA Soccer '07 at HDC in '07?
The settings on my controller got messed up during a reset that we had early in the game. I know it sounds like the dog ate my homework, but that's what happened. There's no way that happens to me next time.

Photographer John Todd has helped you out. Who's the better shooter? Why?
He is. He just shoots more and has more experience. Although, I was breathing down his neck pretty good for a couple of days during the World Cup.

What's the best game you've ever seen, ever?
Soccer game? Germany-Poland during this past World Cup. I was almost forgetting to take pictures during the end, I was so into it. I had to remind myself that I was there working.

Can you define SuperLiga in five words or less?
1. Extra 2. Money 3. For 4. Mexican 5. Owners.

If Beckham can bend it, what can Drew do?
Please. I'm so out of shape right now that I say a prayer of thanks if I make it up a flight of stairs.

 



0 comments
  1. Ron Beilstein
    commented on: January 31, 2008 at 3:39 p.m.
    re advertisements: I roared over adidas' "on the road" ads during the WC. I loved the idea that euro players would get into pick-up games, and with a bicycle kick off a Vespa. ...and the Brazil MNT traveling through the airport!! I replay my video tapes and laugh years later. re Eric Wynalda: I'm sad. I hated the idea of ex-players as commentators until I heard EW. He was great, offering unvarnished insight, positive criticisms ('so-and-so isn't having a good game' but never 'so-and-so isn't good enough for MLS'), teaching what's needed for the US to be competitive in the world. I hope a team picks him up for their non-ESPN broadcasts. I hope to see him on DirectKick.


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