MLS commissioner Don Garber opens up on the impact of the Saudi League on MLS

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MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated on Tuesday that the expansion of the Saudi Pro League does not pose a danger to Major League Soccer. Instead, he sees it as a chance to promote the sport globally. 

The Saudi league, primarily funded by the government’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has gained significant international recognition with the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo to Al Nassr in January. Ronaldo’s contract with the team made him the highest-earning athlete worldwide.

“I believe that emerging leagues in emerging markets, having energy and having investment and creating noise is a positive,” Garber told reporters ahead Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game in Washington.

“For many years, we were that challenging league and we’re in a different spot than we were in the past.”

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“I don’t look at that as a threat in any way to Major League Soccer. I actually think it’s positive for the sport. I wish them well.”

Garber expressed his desire for an MLS team to participate in the Club World Cup in 2025, which will take place in the United States. He compared the progress of the Saudi Pro League to the development of CONCACAF, an organization that unites countries from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

“I am a supporter of CONCACAF. I have seen the energy and investment that’s gone into this part of the world.”

“I want to see the rest of the world being a big part of the soccer family – whether that’s in Saudi Arabia or whether it’s in Asia, whether it’s in the emerging professionalism of some of the leagues in South America.”

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has invested large sums of money in global sports such as golf and Formula One in the past few years. 

Detractors have alleged that Saudi Arabia is using the PIF as a means of diverting attention from the country’s poor human rights reputation, a practice commonly referred to as “sportwashing.”

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