While Sepp Blatter is gearing up for his upcoming campaign for another term as FIFA president, he's also making banal statements on various soccer-related subjects. Admittedly, this is something he does with amazing consistency regardless of whether he is or isn't on the stump. The topics aren't new, and neither are the opinions.

But some of Sepp's recent comments, which yet again hit on the never ending battle between international and club soccer interests, got my mental wheels turning (such as they are at the moment).
"In my view, and this is something on which Michel Platini agrees, domestic championships are too long because there are too many teams and too many matches. Teams in leagues with 20 clubs play 38 games, on top of which they also have national cup competitions and league cups, etc. This also creates a conflict of interest between national teams and clubs, some of whom complain that their players come back tired or injured. That’s not the fault of the international calendar, however, and it’s a subject that ought to be discussed."

Even if Blatter has a point about domestic seasons being too long, the last sentence reveals his motivation for making it. FIFA makes its money off the international version of the sport, which is Sepp's overriding concern;  like a grizzly during mating season, Sepp is protecting his bit of turf with all the ferocity he can muster in between trips down to the stream to bite the heads off of leaping salmon.

I would have said "weasel", but I'm fairly certain that more appropriate mammal is not territorial in any meaningful way.

Recognizing the cynical reasons behind Baltter's comment doesn't change the reality, should FIFA actually pressure leagues to shorten their seasons (whether they could do so to any effect is a discussion for another day). With that in mind, it strikes me that MLS is uniquely positioned to fall in line with Blatter's wishes, with one, rather large, caveat.

If Blatter wants schedules shortened but round-robin formats retained, which is appears is the case, that would mean shrinking the number of teams in various leagues around the world. He specifically mentioned 20-club leagues playing 38-match schedules, and FIFA does have a suggested limit of 18 teams for a domestic league (which would make for 34-match schedules, like MLS will have next season). "Too many teams" is a problem for MLS, since the league is already at 19 (with Montreal's entry pending), heading for 20, and likely to go well beyond that number (this is a big country with a lot of possible markets - hi Miami Ultras!). I doubt that voluntary downsizing would ever happen in places like England and Spain, and Sepp is more of a fool than I thought if that's where he's headed with his supposedly Platini-backed opinions.

But if Sepp simply wants league schedules shortened and can get over the number of clubs involved being a prerequisite for change, then MLS might be ready with an easy solution for the rest of the world: conferences.

Okay, so a conference setup wherein MLS teams play conference opponents home-and-home, then play opposite conference opponents once each (in a two-conference, 24-team league, this would be 34 games) is not in the spirit of Sepp's "concerns."

In the end, though, the league season would be shorter than the 38-game monstrosity currently in place in much of Europe. If it's shorter seasons Sepp wants, less teams isn't the answer. More teams, divided into conferences with a clean unbalanced schedule, is the answer.

Tongue and cheek now separated.  Besides, even if Sepp saw an unbalanced American-style setup as amenable, there's that pesky calendar thing getting in the way of his ever liking the MLS way of doing things.

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