It's fair to say that football is a global phenomenon, but it hasn't always been in the United States. Competition from the likes of Basketball, American Football, Baseball, Ice Hockey and networks (who dislike football because there are fewer ad breaks) has meant that for decades football was nothing but a punchline within the United States. That's all changed over the last decade though, as Americans have witnessed the World Cup and US teams have coaxed huge name players like Thierry Henry, David Beckham and more to play for their teams. As such, the game is growing in esteem within their own country and attracting the attention from football fans all over the globe. In acknowledgement of the growing footballing nation and the excitement of their game, Sky have inked a deal with the MLS association to bring big name games to UK televisions.
The move comes after fans demanded via the phone no for Sky that they begin broadcasting select games, hot on the heels of the news that Steven Gerrard would be joining L.A Galaxy and Frank Lampard would be teaming up with New York City to help them secure the title. Understandably, Sky are delighted with the deal (of which the cost is undeclared), but few more so than David Beckham and Thierry Henry, two Sky ambassadors who both ended their careers in the United States playing at the very top of their game.
On the deal, David Beckham commented "This is another important moment that shows the continued growth of MLS. I have seen first-hand how popular soccer has become in America. Having fantastic partners such as Sky Sports on board will not only add to the coverage of the game, it will also broaden its appeal outside of US."
Meanwhile, Thierry Henry stated “I will never forget my time playing in MLS, it gave me some great memories and I was proud to play a role in growing the game. I saw the passion of the fans in the US, they have always had it for other sports but they also have it for football now and it’s going to be huge in years to come. Sky Sports is the best place for the game, to bring it closer to fans in the UK and build MLS even more.”
On finally putting an end to people contacting Sky by phone to ask for MLS games and the deal in general, Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said "Football in the US and Canada has enormous potential for growth and we can’t wait to bring this competition to our viewers for the first time. Thierry Henry has joined us, he created fantastic memories in MLS, and we look forward to seeing more of those great stories from across the Atlantic. We offer an unrivalled range of sport across our seven channels and we are always looking to offer more choice. After recently adding football from Holland, Italy and UEFA European qualifiers, we are delighted to now add MLS to that list.”
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