September 25, 2008

OK, now I know we're in trouble

When I read that FIFA had fined the Croatian Football Federation £14,920 for racist slurs shouted at Emile Heskey, I thought, "That's an odd number." Then I saw that it equated CHF 30,000. That means the Swiss franc is worth about half a pound. So is the U.S. dollar.

Oh sh*t.

The Swiss franc? Really, the dollar is worth just slightly more than the Swiss franc?

I haven't heard anyone else mention it, so please alert me to much better arguments than the one I'm about to make, but the declining value of the dollar might do more to hurt the progress of MLS than any other factor.

Next year, MLS will start its most aggressive expansion plan with the birth of Sounders FC in Seattle and a team in Philadelphia the following season. Several other cities have lined up to join the league. This means MLS will need many more quality players quickly to avoid a sharp dilution in talent, the very thing that killed the NASL. Unless the American pipeline is backed up with talent ready to shine, this means MLS will need to go abroad to find its players.

Currently European players would lose a lot of purchasing power by moving to the U.S. According to the Economist, the pound is overvalued against the dollar by more than 18 percent, while the Euro is overvalued by more than 55. Unless the players MLS brings in will be receiving raises to compensate (or extra marketing deals), the European players have no reason to come.

With that thought in mind, I suggest MLS target players from countries where the dollar is much stronger. Here are my suggestions based on the relative value of the dollar and my wholly uneducated guess as to the level of talent:


I'm pretty sure MLS scouts cover South America to a ridiculous degree, but maybe they might want to focus more on the two nations mentioned above. I know about the J-League and A-League but not much. I also know Egypt just won the African Cup of Nations, so they must have some talent. All of this is just a shot in the dark, and in a year from now the countries on that list will undoubtedly change, but the economic knowledge is another tool MLS scouts could use to bolster their arguments when convincing certain foreign players to come here.

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