MLS commissioner Don Garber snubs Neymar for “vacation” comments
Neymar said he's like to play in MLS, noting the “three-month vacation” as a selling point. Garber fired back: "we don’t want them in Major League Soccer".
Neymar, the Brazilian forward for PSG, is 30 years old and has been playing professionally since 2009, at 17 years old. He recently made comments about his desire to play in the U.S. to extend his career a little longer in Major League Soccer.
"I'd love to play in the U.S., actually. I'd love to play there at least for a season. First of all, their season is shorter, so I'd get three months' vacation.”
His comments struck a nerve for MLS chief Don Garber, who made sure to call it out in his league address. It’s true that some MLS teams such as New York only had only about six weeks off between winning the MLS Cup and the start of the preseason, so Neymar’s “three month” comment is not necessarily even true. “We don’t need to bring in a big name player at the end of their career because they decided they want to retire in the MLS,” he said. “We want our story to be about young players coming here at the earliest stages or in the prime of their career and making our league their league of choice.”
Garber mentioned that 30 years old is not considered old in the MLS. He spoke of some of the greats like David Beckham coming to play for MLS towards the end of their career, noting that MLS would not be what it is today without them. At the same time, he says that some of the more recent players who joined when they were younger, like Josef Martínez and Miguel Almiron, are making the league more than just a “retirement league”.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 40 years old now and still playing for AC Milan but he actually started in MLS and then switched to Serie A, rather than the other way around. Garber pointed out that no one makes comments about Zlatan going to Italy to retire, as they do when it’s the other way around. “He worked his tail off in MLS and he's working his tail off in Serie A,” said Garber. “I’m not quite sure why we're viewed differently, but that is what it is."
Basically, if Neymar wants to play in the U.S., he’s going to need to change his attitude about it.
“If they’re not here to come and play and to be a great contributor to their club and to our league, and to respect the league and its fans, then we don’t want them in Major League Soccer,” said Garber.