Commentary

New era in L.A. kicks off with same old FC B.S.

By Paul Gardner

Try as I might, I cannot see the demise of Chivas USA and its replacement by a celebrity-conglomerate currently calling itself Los Angeles Football Club as a positive event for MLS.

Of course, the deal comes with the promise of a snazzy new stadium, and that should always be good news. And it is, but it’s a measure of how far soccer has advanced that new stadiums are now old hat.

We’ve been there and done that quite a few times now. So, as far as I am concerned, they will have to do something more startling than that to justify this marketing talk of “a new era” in Los Angeles soccer.

I gather I’m supposed to be impressed by the LAFC (I imagine that’s what it will get called) masthead. Well, I’m not. I’m not in a good position there, because I’ve never heard of half the names. My fault, no doubt, the result of a stubbornly ingrained aversion to the whole celebrity-culture thing.

Not sure when that set in, but -- as far as soccer is concerned -- I remember only too well the big names and the celebrities who rushed to get on the soccer bandwagon in 1967, and who disappeared just as speedily when the going got tough. Maybe that experience could have made me skeptical?

I mean -- all these names, all these important people used to success and getting their own way -- how long will it be before they’re at each other’s throats? The list, after all, includes one of the more contentious club owners in Britain -- Vincent Tan of Cardiff City.

At the moment they’re no doubt all buddy-buddy, but that makes matters worse when you consider that their first joint move is to name their neonate club Los Angeles Football Club. Brilliant, guys. So L.A. has to copy New York, with its insipid NYCFC title?

These two clubs must have access to a dazzling array of marketing brainpower, and that’s the best they can come up with? Don Garber isn’t helping matters here, either. It seems that someone -- and I shall now assume the awesome responsibility -- needs to remind Garber that he no longer works for the National Football League, but is now running Major League Soccer. Is he under the impression that these two names refer to the same sport?

Unlikely, as we’re dealing with a pretty intelligent guy here. So why does he repeatedly allow his clubs to adopt names that denote the wrong sport?

Is he covertly trying to turn MLS into MLF? We already have Dallas and Toronto and Vancouver and Seattle and Portland and New York who seem to think they are football clubs. The F.C. clubs -- which are also known (by me) as the F*C* clubs, but there seems to be a certain amount of editorial resistance to the use of that designation.

We can add L.A. to that list. Temporarily. At least there is the possibility that a new and better name will emerge. It will have to be better, if only because it can’t be worse. Instead of slavishly copying New York -- is that really what L.A. wants to be doing? -- the new club could line up alongside the SC clubs Columbus, Colorado and Orlando City and declare itself unashamedly what it is, a soccer club. (And yes, I’m aware that the punctuation of S.C. can be also be altered).

Juliet’s dismissive “What’s in a name?” hardly applies here. That perverse insistence on the word football goes deeper than the mere word. It betrays an apologetic inferiority, a cultural cringe that feels obliged to do what the English do.

Eurosnobbism at its pathetic worst. And how even more pathetic when one knows that the word soccer, so snootily mocked by the Brits, is an English coinage and was once, not that long ago, widely used in England. Now the English scorn the word simply because it is seen as American usage. So we, in this country, should align ourselves with that sort of anti-American snobbery?

The celebrity-studded ownership group for the new L.A. club has been described by Garber as “visionary.” That would be nice, because the future of soccer in this country holds out the promise of new, or at least different, contributions to the sport.

But would Garber, or any of the celebrities, like to tell me what is visionary -- or, for that matter, what is American -- about bowing to British language requirements?

It is ironic that while Garber turns a blind eye to the F.C. clubs in MLS, when he outlines his own vision for MLS, he says that the aim is to become “one of the top soccer leagues in the world.” Soccer leagues is what he says.

But MLS is hardly likely to become the top anything if it is afraid to proclaim its own identity. Time for Garber to assert himself, to tell his football clubs that from now on they’re to be known as what they really are ... soccer clubs.

mls
31 comments about "New era in L.A. kicks off with same old FC B.S.".
  1. Alvaro Bettucchi, November 7, 2014 at 10:32 p.m.

    Don GArber....all I can say for this article is....AMEN!

  2. R2 Dad, November 7, 2014 at 10:33 p.m.

    Paul, it seems that these british-isms that americans have appropriated really bother you. I would tend to have agreed, back in the day, but things really changed with the advent of the FIFA soccer franchise from EA Sports. Everyone in the US under 40 has grown up with this game, heard the announcers, the vocabulary--it doesn't seem like cultural capitulation. The talking heads that do soccer prognostication are either british or have played substantial minutes in the english/barclays premier league. We're OK with that, as long as they're funny/entertaining. Don't sweat the small stuff so much. Give the americans more credit. As soon as something better/more entertaining comes along that ISN'T british, we're gonna jump ship without as much as a wave goodbye. hopefully that something better is american, but maybe it will be costa rican or canadian or mexican. but when we're ready to move on from boots, bylines, mazy runs and getting stuck in, you'll know it.

  3. BJ Genovese, November 7, 2014 at 11:17 p.m.

    People are trying to legitimize the game by giving it the FC. The game has evolved, from a spectators perspective. Supporters have tuned in overseas and know that is the holy grail. So its only natural for people to bring some of that home to there game. Its smart. Its a wordly game and to be the only country that for the most part calls it something different than the rest of the world is isoteric and is keeping the rest of the world from taking our league and players serious.

  4. cony konstin, November 7, 2014 at 11:18 p.m.

    We need to make our own way. We should not be trying to copy someone else's identity. We need to create our own destiny. It is time to stop for one moment and reflect where we where, where we are and where are we going. We need to design a 21st century master plan for soccer/football and futsal.

  5. Bill Smith, November 8, 2014 at 12:13 a.m.

    Unlike those other places/teams, LA already has an SC - the University of Southern California. In that market the FC might actually make some sense for that reason (though it might really be a placeholder the way they suggest it is).

  6. Jogo Bonito, November 8, 2014 at 12:26 a.m.

    I have always shared PG's frustration with Eurosnobbery. Especially, the Brit-Fascination stuff. I find it embarrassing as a long time soccer player, coach, and fan. It's with great pride that I see what's happened in places like Portland, Seattle and Kansas City. Over the past 30 years generations have grown up loving the game and we're now seeing what's evolved. I like the internationally flavor that the fans are adopting with singing and drums, etc. What I find unacceptable is the American TV sports anchors saying things like "nil" and "pitch" - That's awful and I can't believe that anyone finds it acceptable to allow British play-by-play commentators to call our US National Team games. We have allowed teams to be called "Real" Salt Lake or "Sporting" KC. The FC thing is completely unnecessary ... I find it all very embarrassing as an American soccer fan.

  7. Gary Singh, November 8, 2014 at 1:12 a.m.

    Why don't they just get Elton John to buy the team and call it the LA Aztecs? Oh wait, that already happened 38 years ago...

  8. Chris Sapien , November 8, 2014 at 1:29 a.m.

    Well said PG, it is certainly regressive, unproductive and bears no interest in moving the American Soccer game from the "football" shadows of overseas leagues. Not to mention, that even the teams who currently use the moniker, gain not a shread of significance because of it.

  9. Dylan Mayer, November 8, 2014 at 2:48 a.m.

    Really....your made about this? I mean if you really want to be correct it should be AFC, associated football club, since that's is where the term "soccer" came from...

  10. Gus Keri, November 8, 2014 at 5:50 a.m.

    So what? Grow up, Paul. Oh! Wait! you are old. Never mind!

  11. T michael Flinn, November 8, 2014 at 9:10 a.m.

    Paul, with his fascination for all things Latin (South American and Hispanic) criticizes the American use of similar terminology to South American usage. When we started a new youth club, we used Fûtbol because we had a Hispanic contingent. Paul, you lose this argument,

  12. Drake Cartrette, November 8, 2014 at 9:15 a.m.

    First thing I thought of when I watched the "LAFC" announcement. Garber and the rest kept saying SOCCER over and over again but called the club LAFC. I would just like for them to keep it consistent. Don't be afraid to set yourself apart. It is called ML"S" and I don't see why the league doesn't want to stand up for their name.

  13. Footballer Forever, November 8, 2014 at 10:42 a.m.

    Huh! Paul, Anti British and snobby American, Gardner. It was only a matter of time for you to throw a temper tantrum article about Los Angeles Football Club.

    are you that miserable of an American that gets easily annoyed for anything British descendant? Is your American-ego affected by anything that is non-American? Are you a "soccer" journatlist, err, blogger because you are not wanted or can't work with the eggball league? What personal issues do you really have? Mind you, when New York City Football Club was announced, you wrote an article with the same BS story line , but this time your shenaningans included an extra salt of vulgartiy words used as in "BS" and "the F*C* clubs". You are supposed to be a supporter/writer of the sport, huh? Shame on you and your anti foreign sentiments which if it applies to the British then it only translates to any other nationality too.

    It's about time that you put your American snobby attitude to the side and realize/accept that what you call soccer, the sport it's called Football , futbol, futebol, fussball around the world and your eggball loving ways can't overule that. If your merican imperialistic mindset is offended by it and using the eggball league as your reasoning for it, you might as well give up on "soccer" because you are as closed minded as the Not For literates primate fans.

    In essesnce, Football was invented , exported by the Britiish while Brazilians, Germans and Italians have perfected it. American "football" should be regarded as eggball because calling it Rugby would be disgraceful to that sport.

    Having said that, whomever who "supports" soccer is so offended when it's called football, you got more issues that just being an snobby American citizen.

  14. Footballer Forever, November 8, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.

    "Soccer" America, You should fire Paul Gardner because no matter what his views are there is no need to use profanities and it's irresponsible for someone to express his viewn in a discriminatory or anti foreign attitude. Fire him and maybe he will be a happier writing "football" articles with Mike Florio and other eggball enthusiast writers than writing for the beautiful sport which he's trying to make it entirely American and disregarding Football is the world's game. There are enough pathetic people with his views and there are better topics he could be writing for the sport and not against football, round football.

  15. Mark Johnston, November 8, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.

    Why isn't Paul Gardner retired yet?

  16. Footballer Forever, November 8, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.

    @ Mark Johnston

    A better question is why "Soccer" American has not retired Paul Garder yet with his "Get off my lawn" Republican minded views. Pathetic he is and shame on "Soccer" America not to realize the type of grouchy blogger he is because for sure he can't be regarded as a sports journatlist.

  17. Footballer Forever, November 8, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.

    Paul Gardner's previous British temper tantrum and you'll see his tendencies. Pathetic individual and more importantly a disgraceful football or soccer blogger because he may get offended and attempt to call INS and send me back to England even though I am not British.

    http://www.socceramerica.com/article/51809/promising-start-in-new-york-city-except-for-the-f.html

    May 25th 2013
    Promisign start in New York City, except for the FC

  18. R S, November 8, 2014 at 12:26 p.m.

    This entire article represents what is wrong with American soccer. I'm not sure why it would matter if LA is an FC or an SC, it's a new organization that is offering the sport to a wide section of US fans. Unlike Chivas USA which was owned by a Mexican conglomerate who went out of its way to court only Latino fans, only Mexican fans, and sought to be like it's Mexican league counter part. How was THAT American? It wasn't. I live in LA and have watched MLS since its inception and with the establishment of a second team via Chivas, I can tell you I never once felt welcomed to even consider being a fan because I was not their target demographic (as a non-Mexian or Mexican American fan). So I am glad that the ownership is compromised of individuals who have investments in football clubs around Europe. I see this as a positive to giving franchises to companies based solely in the US. Maybe this will finally expose us to the possibility of bringing talent from Europe or around the world that is not at retirement age hoping to cash in or based solely on their ethnic marketability and appeal to fans. I cannot see how the demise of Chivas USA is NOT a positive for soccer in LA and US. We are breaking away from soccer in LA being considered a "Mexican" or "Latino" thing and inviting people from all backgrounds to fall in love with the sport, football or soccer, whatever you want to call it. It's such am "American" ethnocentrism that we call anyone who wants to refer to the sport as "football" a Euro-snob. Get over it and embrace that around the world this game is called football because it's a sport played with feet and a ball. If we continue to argue this point we are going to forever be fixated on the wrong aspect of the sports development. So get off your high horse and see it from an international perspective and please stop giving the international soccer community something to point and laugh at about US soccer fans.

  19. Footballer Forever, November 8, 2014 at 4:24 p.m.

    If and when Miami finally is able to get the stadium issue resolved, not only i want it fully named Miami Football Club, not Miami FC, and at the same time send the eggball dolphins from the eggball league to Londoners who are craving for eggball (chuckling)

  20. Phil Hardy, November 8, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.

    Paul Gardner is a bigot.

  21. Ginger Peeler, November 9, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.

    Whoa, guys! Footballer...you need to know that Paul was born in England and came to the U.S. when he was 29. He has been active in the American world of soccer since the late 60s when there was a sudden interest in the sport and we had professional teams. A little history here: the interest died out and the teams folded, one by one. Finally, the only professional teams left were for Indoor Soccer. Then the Women's World Cup galvanized the interest of the country again AND the Men's World Cup was held here in the U.S. Finally we had the interest of our country again and the MLS began. In the meantime, Americans were heavily invested, both financially and emotionally, in a sport that was ALREADY called football. The NFL has been and continues to be a sports juggernaut. Bigger than baseball (which was number one for years and years), basketball and hockey. Our beloved sport (known as soccer in the U.S. to differentiate it from the NFL sport), falls behind all of those sports in public interest. But it's building. To keep naming our MLS teams "FC" is kind of like spitting in the wind. We are bravely shaking our fist at a giant, who ignores us. Much like a chihuahua yapping at a bull mastiff. I understand that most of the rest of the world calls it football. But here in the United States, that name was already taken. So, let's just call it soccer, with the understanding that it goes by another name elsewhere in our country, and stop behaving like chihuahuas.

  22. Amos Annan, November 9, 2014 at 10:53 a.m.

    The name or use of F.C. matters little, but offering MLS soccer to a different city would have been a better choice.

  23. beautiful game, November 9, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.

    I, amici sportive, could care less about nemes/logos. I am more concerned about the global soccer product on TV. It's a sham; the video concoction of tunneling the camera on individual players, coaches, benches etc., is 40-50% of the game. How in the world does a director focus on one or two players, their backs, head shots, coaches, benches, etc., when there are 20 field players on the pitch, and the viewer is robbed of the team shape and lanes of opportunity measured in time and space. TV soccer is problematic and without purpose. Add to that the suffocating announcers, especially in the MLS; it becomes torture.

  24. Mike Jacome, November 9, 2014 at 1:36 p.m.

    i don't see what the problem is...It is true that most of the world call the sport football or futbol or futebol...But that doesn't mean every one has to call it that way. For instance in italian is called calcio which means (kicking) therefor we have ACMilan (associazione Calcio Milan) If we call the sport soccer (after association football) so be it, we should ignore the rest of the world arguing "This is not SOCCER is FOOTBALL!" I don't have a problem with clubs calling themselves F.C. I can go both ways. I don't understand why this bother PG so much.

  25. Ken Jamieson, November 10, 2014 at 12:22 a.m.

    A few points. Soccer is football, in fact it is more football than the brand played by the NFL, CFL or NCAA; where only one player regularly puts foot to ball. In fact, for the most part a player who kicks at a ball in the American Football is actually committing an offence!
    Next, it is my understanding that the LAFC moniker is a temporary one. Why get all worked up over a temporary name?
    That said, if the club plays a sport where the main method of play is by applying a foot to a ball, why shouldn't they call themselves a football club. This isn't a "British" thing, only the English language version of the epilation given to most clubs in this sport worldwide. What do you think FC stands for in FC Bayern Munchen, or the CF in CF Monterrey?
    The sport is football, the name soccer was derived from the formal name Association Football to differentiate it from the other codes that had deviated from the original game (Rugby Football, Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, Canadian Football and American Football to name a few).
    In Australia, where the term soccer was used widely for many years (so much that their national team is known as the Socceroos), the term football is now used for the sport, as opposed to Footy (Australian Rules) or Rugby. Clubs in the Hyundai A-League are known officially as FCs.
    Far from being Eurosnobbery or copying the Brits, the move to use FC is in line with the rest of the world. After all, the governing body is FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) not FIS (Federation Internationale de Soccer!

  26. Footballer Forever, November 10, 2014 at 3:25 p.m.

    @ Ginger Peeler

    I am not one to lower my standards and/or use unnecessary profanities, name calling or ridiculous analogies to prove my point; However, if your yapping chihuahua behavior analogy is directed towards Paul Gardner, I sure won't object to that or defend him either ;)

    First of all, would you care to let us know who you are or your relationship to Paul Gardner that you felt compelled to "enlighten" us with his background profile or footballing resume?

    The fact that you indicated Paul was born in England and came to the US when he's 29 makes it even more ridiculous that someone from where Football was invented/exported internationally has taken such a ridiculous position, but I can understand PG has converted into a blinded "American Point of view" individual.

    Thanks for the quick US "soccer" history which as a football fan from youth I am very well aware of US football history this country.
    Not that it matters or has any influence to your reasoning, but might as well give the correct US football chronology history,NASL was created and it died out interest by mid 80's,US Men's National football team qualified to 1990 World Cup,1994 World Cup was awarded to USA,our own football(cough cough)"soccer" league was born in 1996, US Women's football won 1999 WC and US Men's football had a great showing in 2002 WC, not in 2006, amazed in 2010 and depending on your expectations in 2014, they did decent/great or bad (debatable).

    On to your points stated, naming nfl a juggernaut does not justify why "soccer" can't be called football or football clubs for its franchises and the only ones raising hell are those of you who may have an eggball loving connection or fetish and find it an American conflict of interest to abide to "Britishism" or "Europeanism".

    Why would it be spitting in the wind to name our clubs , football clubs? Bravely shaking our fist at a giant like a chihuahua yapping at a mastiff? Who is yapping? If such "giant" ignores us, why would it matter then? Are you afraid of getting sued just like MLB attempted to sue MLS when it acquired Major League Soccer, but decided not to pursue it?

    If you understand that the rest of the world calls it football then it more than a "name conflict", as Paul Gardner made it obviously made it known, the main reason some in the "soccer community" are crying foul towards the use FC or football club as a capital sin. After all, we are just a "minnow" compare to other sports, aren't we? It's only on American minded egocentrism that such attitude persist and the Americana way is the way everyone in the world should abide by. Nice try, but on every point you've attempted to make you failed miserably.

    Finally, the only yapping chihuahuas with the anything not American is not acceptable complex are those who get easily offende at the mere mention of football which is not eggball shaped.

    A proud US Football fan, round football to be exact :)

  27. Jens Gylland, November 10, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.

    SC/FC who cares? By this logic used by Gardner Norwegian club Rosenborg should drop their suffix "BK" as "ball klubb/ball club" and BvB Dortmund should drop the first B and replace it with F because Germans say Fussball. How ever do those clubs know they are playing fussball/football/fútbol/futebol/calcio/soccer??? Not to mention the MANY other clubs that use different ways to name their clubs. Geesh. International game they say but can't use international terms. Yeah, that makes SO much sense...

  28. Kevin Sims, November 13, 2014 at 12:31 p.m.

    PG has this right. Soccer people are doing themselves a huge disservice with the FC business. If we wish to become ingrained into American culture and enjoy the marketing boon we seek and align with corporate America for all the right reasons, we need to brand ourselves as "soccer" teams, leagues, coaches, players, fans, administrators, parents, officials, reporters, businesses ... yadda, yadda, yadda.

  29. Footballer Forever, November 13, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.

    Thank Goodness, PG is not a MLS decision maker or has any influence othee than being a sh!t stirrer and one who causes more division in our football community than any good. Football is a world sport and to those trying to "Americanize" it are thr ones doing a disservice to the sporr. In case some of you have forgotten it, NASL failed for many reasons including by"Americanizing it" as the few nutcases want to do and because it creates an emotional conflic with your American eggball.

  30. Margaret Manning, November 13, 2014 at 3:48 p.m.

    The real problem with the LAFC and NYCFC is obvious in their announcement ceremonies--rather than show up with the supporters' groups that led to their franchise grant (there are none) they parade a bunch of wealthy corporate types a round. Give me Philadelphia or Orlando any day. LA has a great soccer team and that team could barely fill its SSS for a championship match. Regular season attendance is marginal. How is LAFC going to improve that? Same for NY.

  31. Saverio Colantonio, November 16, 2014 at 11:26 p.m.

    What is the real problem with the MLS? Its not the name. It is the the setup. The problem is that there is not a great enough grass roots development of the game. Who cares what these franchises are or who promotes them. Without a multi tiered league with promotion and relegation, there will no development of talent for the league. The current situation with the MLS, NASL, USPro and USL PDL, there are not enough teams to develop players. Franchises succeed or fail not because of the talent or following of the team, but of the PR their team is able to produce. Why does a team like Chivas continue to exist? If it can't produce on the field or at the box office, I have no sympathy for the team. Putting teams into places like Orlando or Miami where they are not supported makes no sense. I would prefer 3 teams in Seattle if they were supported and were successful on the field. With a tiered system we would have organizations with experience filling spots for teams that were unsuccessful. The big bonus would be that these lower tiers would be providing a lot more spots for developing young players.

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