The So-Called Pan-Pacific Championship
Major League Soccer (USA), the J.League (Japan) and the Hyundai A-League (Australia) today announced an unprecedented and innovative partnership in the creation of a new international soccer tournament to be hosted in Honolulu, Hawaii: the Pan-Pacific Championship (PPC), which will crown the top club from the Asian and North American soccer confederations. [. . .]
The four teams to participate in the 2008 tournament are: reigning MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo and Haleiwa, Hawaii native Brian Ching; the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Champion Gamba Osaka, with 19-year-old Japanese sensation Michihiro Yasuda and J.League star Yasuhito Endo; the 2007 SuperLiga finalists Los Angeles Galaxy, whose international roster includes English superstar David Beckham and perennial MLS all-star Landon Donovan; and a club to qualify from the Hyundai A-League Final Series, which concludes in February 2008 ahead of the Pan-Pacific Championship.
Now, I’m not against exhibition tournaments in general. If Beckham can fill stadia across the world for reasons that remain somewhat obscure to my footballing brain, no-one can blame the Galaxy for whoring themselves endlessly. It’s what football teams do nowadays. Or at least, we shouldn’t blame them particularly.
But do they have to pretend this is about “crown[ing] the top club from the Asian and North American soccer confederations”? The Galaxy finished third from bottom in MLS this season. The teams that qualify should be the MLS Cup champions (Houston, as is happening) and the Supporters’ Shield regular season champions (DC United, who are probably glad they don’t have yet another tournament to plan for).
Even Galaxy fans have had enough. Over at The Offside, Laurie lays into the front office for continuing to attempt to become a “superclub” by their actions off the field rather than on it.
Is it the sole goal of MLS to make the Galaxy the most hated/criticized/laughed at team in the league because of the special treatment they receive? That seems to be the case. It’s getting embarrassing to be a fan. And if they don’t start performing, it will be humiliating, too.
Of course, it’s doubtful the “Pan-Pacific Championship” would even be happening without Beckham’s draw in Asia. So, one could conclude anything that raises MLS profile is beneficial, and Beckham does that. On the other hand, raising its profile as what is the question.