BY Stanley Holmes 02:59PM 02/21/2011

On frame: New gear on tap for Chivas USA

L.A. club gets a makeover, Garber flexes muscles and Whitecaps making money

Chivas USA gets a makeover and unveils new jersey sponsor / Chivas USA

The American goats are looking for something a little extra to erase memories of their hapless season last year, and perhaps to numb the pain of their coming campaign?

We shouldn’t be too harsh. Remember, every team in Major League Soccer can win the MLS Cup at the beginning of the season. So, the announcement that Corona Extra will emblazon the shirt fronts of Chivas USA should be cause for a celebration, a fiesta, right?

“Corona Extra is one of the best-known and most authentic Mexican brands in the world,” club president Antonio Cué said at the shirt unveiling recently.

On that we agree. Chivas USA clearly needs something a little “extra.” One wonders if Corona makes energy drinks?

Whitecaps outstrip earnings of rest of MLS

Vancouver, nestled in the democratic-socialist hotbed of British Columbia (remember, this is a province that believes in health care for all and in strong unions), is outmaneuvering the American capitalists at their own game — making money.

Jay DeMerit / Bob Frid, Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps have yet to play a MLS game, but they have already scored — big time.

They are the leading sponsorship team in all of Major League Soccer,” says commissioner Don Garber, himself a proponent of revenue-sharing, which is another way of saying, without saying it, that he supports the NFL model of collective capitalism (at least for MLS owners).

But, hey, who’s keeping score, anyway. Ooops. The Whitecaps just did — but, you know what I mean.

“Even with Los Angeles and its stadium and David Beckham, the largest sponsorship base is here in Vancouver,” the Commish said.

The Whitecaps have four founding partners in place for their March 19 debut, including beer brewer Labatt (this is a Canadian team, after all) and shirt sponsor Bell Canada.

“It is one of the larger non-media, stand-alone sports sponsorships in sports in America and Canada,” Garber boasted. That statement has bean counters fiddling with their pocket protectors. Does he mean bigger than NFL, MLB, NBA sponsorships?

Says the Don: “It’s a sports sponsorship that any pro league would be proud of, whether it’s here or in European football.”

MLS says no to FIFA

The Commish is on a roll. He exposed his spine recently, telling the non-democratic, dictatorial-leaning FIFA to stay off our fields. Garber is backing off his willingness to schedule games through the winter months to better align the MLS with football’s international calendar.

Take that, Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s bad-boy leader-for-life who desperately wants to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (yeah, right).

“I don’t think we are going to a winter calendar any time soon,” the Commish said during a visit to Vancouver, flexing new-found muscles that he’s been honing at LA Fitness.

Don Garber / Al Messerschmidt, MLS

“To think about playing in Toronto in January or December, it’s hard to imagine we are going to be able to do that,”  Garber continued, as he was demonstrating to reporters a one-arm pushup. Not really, but we know he could if he wanted.

“The fact our league is only 16 years old we don’t yet have that deep, deep commitment from fans to come through thick and thin,” Garber said. “I’m not sure we are ready for that.”

Does that mean we can forget about promotion/relegation, too?

FIFA board member gets caught again; faces ethics probe

FIFA vice president Jack Warner keeps getting his hand caught in the cookie jar. Now, it appears that FIFA ethics committee (an oxymoron?) is, gasp, launching a probe over allegations he tried to profit from putting World Cup tickets onto the black market.

Shame on you, Mr. Warner. Shame. Shame. Shame. To think Mr. Warner might be tarnishing the sterling reputation of FIFA (again) that exists solely to bring the world together through soccer. To think anyone at FIFA would allegedly try to use his influence to cut a profitable side deal is incredulous. But only if you believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the ethical integrity of soccer’s world governing body.

Of course, Mr. Warner, who also goes by “CrackerJack,” says he’s innocent and is merely taking advantage of business opportunities.

The allegations first published in the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, last August allege that Warner tried to buy tickets from FIFA for last summer’s tournament and had arranged to sell them on to European ticketing agencies.

According to the reports, a deal for tickets with a black market value of $250,000 was arranged but fell through after Warner was priced out of the market.

Dagbladet alleged that Warner was furious about the breakdown of the deal, from which his cut was said to be 60 percent of the profit.

FIFA initially refused to intervene and, according to reporters showed no interest when they offered evidence they said they had against Warner.

When the Norwegian journalists asked Blatter at a press conference in October why the ethics committee had not investigated stories the newspaper had published about the Trinidadian, Blatter apparently replied rather disingenuously that it couldn’t investigate as no evidence had been presented to the committee.

But sources say FIFA has since launched its own probe into the allegations, and the matter has been elevated to the ethics committee (please, stop me from laughing).

It is not clear who put the issue on the committee’s agenda, as only its 13 members (all men) and the members of the FIFA executive have the authority to order a probe.

The allegations facing Warner, of course, are not the first ticketing scandal to involve the controversial Trinidadian.

Warner was fined almost $1 million by FIFA for selling black market tickets for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He has reportedly paid back just one quarter of the amount.

Previously, he was accused of requesting payment of Trinidad and Tobago’s share for an international friendly with Scotland into his personal account. The Scots refused.

Back to what really matters

The Sounders lost a training game against FC Dallas 2-0 Monday in Orlando.


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