Commentary: A Case For Transparency

COMMENTARY – Some time ago, after PetkeGate exploded, embarrassingly like a cheap cigar, and leading up to the now-infamous Town Hall meeting at Red Bull Arena, I challenged the RBNY front office about improving relations with the fanbase.

It hasn’t been perfect, but they have gotten a little better in that regard. Who knew that a bit of transparency goes a long way?

If you’re all wondering what this has to do with a recent article written by good folks over at The Atlantic, please keep reading.

It seems that Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has sent a memo to all league and club personnel Friday threatening employees with severe disciplinary action, including termination of employment and fines up to $1 million for leaking information.

The Leak In Question:

On Friday afternoon, The Athletic acquired a copy of the memo, which cites the current negotiations with the players, commercial partners, and local authorities regarding a potential return from its COVID-19 suspension.

Garber added that the leaks could “Severely imperil the future of our League.”

Never mind that the memo singled out The Athletic’s recent reporting about the league’s plan to return to play in Orlando – in included a line about “staff within our League” repeatedly discussing confidential information with “reporters from this publication.”

Now, if someone leaked out confidential information, that’s a bad look no matter how it spun in the positive light. However, given the League’s history of non-transparency, and Garber’s reaction to it all, it feels like overkill for something that could’ve been controlled within MLS’ own communications team.

Yes, news leaks happen, especially in the hyper-speed world of social media, where being first is just as essential page clicks. But, when an organization like Major League Soccer withholds information as long as it suits them, then they have no one but themselves to blame.

If Don Garber wishes to elevate the league then they need to start providing league information more regularly. Otherwise claims of being a top league in the world will ring hollow to those that need to hear it.

The Bottom Line:

Playing things close to the vest with the media is a good thing, but it can backfire when the media is left completely in the dark. Being honest with each other is a good thing for all involved.

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