Sports corruption, though not a new problem, has been an ever-increasing source of concern and attention in both the sporting world and the anticorruption community. In the United States, much of the attention regarding this issue has focused on corruption scandals in the most popular U.S. sports, such as college football, college basketball, and professional basketball. But other less high-profile sports may be even more at risk of corruption. Indeed, in surveying the landscape of sports in America, the league that stands out as very high-risk for corruption is Major League Soccer (MLS).
This may seem surprising. Although soccer is considered to be the most corrupt sport in the world, there have not, to my knowledge, been any reports of significant corruption in MLS to date. Indeed, back in 2015 MLS commissioner Don Garber declared that MLS is “one hundred thousand percent” clean. But just because corruption hasn’t (yet) been uncovered doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that it won’t arise in the future. My concerns for corruption in the MLS arises from my observation that MLS has several of the risk factors that investigations of sports corruption in other contexts have identified. Three such risk factors in particular stand out:continue reading