Political Economy of Football
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MLS Comes Of Age



The distances involved don't make it easy to get to away games in North America's Major League Soccer. But suddenly away fans are appearing, suggesting that the game is putting down real roots. Despite the fact that it is the league's worst performing team, Toronto take about 1,000 fans to each away game. 2,000 went to their team's opening fixture in Columbus, Ohio. Last season the MLS averaged nearly 17,000 spectators a game. This is more than the North American Soccer League managed in the 1970s and about the same as basketball's NBA and ice hockey's NHL draw today, although admittedly the MLS plays fewer games. The US owes its soccer boom partly to the suburban kids who began playing the game in the 1970s and partly to 'New Americans'. MLS commissioner Don Garber notes that most immigration in the last 10 years has been from south of the border and 'And those people love the game.' The estimated 43m Hispanics in the US, up threefold since 1980, now outnumber the population of Spain.


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