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Payne Fined $5,000

D.C. United President Kevin Payne has been fined $5,000 by MLS for comments deemed "detrimental to the public image of the league."

In an interview with the Insider this week, Payne was critical of the playing styles of Colorado and New England (and, to some extent, Real Salt Lake), expressed concern about what he believes are increasingly conservative tactics in MLS, and said that "there are a lot of games in our league that I can't watch."

In announcing the fine, MLS did not say which specific comments were considered inappropriate.

Do you agree with the league's punishment?

By Steve Goff  |  October 29, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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Comments

The truth will set you back $5,000.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 29, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Dear MLS:

Fining members of the MLS family is not the way to fix the League's problems and will not result in more fans. Making it easier for clubs to put a quality and exciting product on the field is.

Sincerely,

Posted by: carnack | October 29, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Weak. He should have at least called a couple teams dirty.

Posted by: sitruc | October 29, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse


THIS:
Dear MLS:

Fining members of the MLS family is not the way to fix the League's problems and will not result in more fans. Making it easier for clubs to put a quality and exciting product on the field is.

AND THIS:
The truth will set you back $5,000.

Posted by: decoi | October 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

so if he loses his job before he pays the fine and fails to land another job in MLS, he can probably just laugh about this. in such a case, soccer journalists should flock to his door to hear his unedited views.

Posted by: troy6 | October 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Great way to draw even more attention to the comments.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | October 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'd love to see his contract -- whether it allows for such nonsense. First off, his comments are nothing he hasn't said before -- and nothing Garber and Gulati haven't said, either. Maybe Payne said it more colorfully or explicitly, but that's all. Garber and Gulati have acknowledged that MLS games aren't the most attractive and that makes it hard for them to compete with broadcasts of top foreign leagues. So did Gazidis.

Second, it's the games themselves that are detrimental to the public image of the league, not Payne's observations. Thirdly, no one outside of the Post's readership took any notice of Payne's comments, and at that most of them didn't. Only true fans read the piece. So, how exactly did the comments hurt the league's image?

Finally, the fine makes the league look ridiculous, not Payne's comments. Criticizing other team's playing styles is not new. It's part of the game's tradition.

Posted by: fischy | October 29, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the above comments: 1) Payne is right, 2) MLS is stupid for drawing more attention to the truth

Posted by: chemweapon | October 29, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, the league made its point in announcing the fine. Forcing KP to pay it would be too much. Just let it slide.

Posted by: fischy | October 29, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

will the $5000 go towards placing an attacking product on the field?

Posted by: beergorila | October 29, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

He should be fined for two things:

1. Faulty reasoning. The bad games aren't that way because of tactics. That's a crutch he uses to try and pretend we were more stylishly crappy than other crappy teams.

b. The fact that he didn't admit to our contribution to the unwatchable factor. I'd rather watch a team effectively play defensively on purpose than see Fred dribbles like a chicken with his head cut off while Gomez lolligags at midfield, Emilio is running 20 yards away in the opposite direction, and four guys who haven't played defense since they were U-10 players are wondering just what in the hell they are doing out there.

But most of all, he should be fined for such whiny, sour grapes comments that totally ignore the culpability of our coaches and players for missing the playoffs.

Posted by: beach3 | October 29, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Somewhat surprised at the size of the fine - if it was $1000 it would've been more appropriate. I thought KP was candid and honest, and I appreciated his comments very much.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | October 29, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

There you go Goff getting people in trouble. Better be careful or you will get the White House Fox treatment from MLS.

Posted by: Verrazzano | October 29, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

At first, I thought the fine was totally ridiculous for all the reasons stated above.

Then I thought about how we would react if the president of Colorado Rapids had called our games unwatchable. But mostly I can see how MLS would want to avoid an environment in which all the teams are insulting each other and putting down the quality of the whole league.

In the end I come down strongly against the fine. It would have been much better handled by a phone call from a senior MLS official to slap Kevin's wrist and tell him not to say such naughty (though truthful) things.

Posted by: WorldCup | October 29, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

If KP throws down another $5000, MLS will let him kick Carlos Ruiz in the head.

Posted by: chemweapon | October 29, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I thought Payne's comments were ridiculous, and his repeated p*ssing contests with teams that finish above DCU in the standings betray a certain childishness. I agree with MLS' message that Payne's style doesn't do him or the league any credit--whether fans can identify with it or not--but the fine seems out of proportion, especially for an MLS FO drudge.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 29, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know how this is handled in other leagues? Do NFL, MLB, or NBA teams insult each other's style of play? When I open up the Sports section, I usually flip straight to soccer.

er... actually... when I open up washingtonpost.com on my web browser, I wave my mouse over Sports, and click on United/Soccer, so I don't see news from other leagues.

Posted by: WorldCup | October 29, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

There you go Goff getting people in trouble. Better be careful or you will get the White House Fox treatment from MLS.

Posted by: Verrazzano | October 29, 2009 2:46 PM |
------------------------------------------------------

Well, of course -- that's the difference. Goff's just reporting what someone said -- not providing everyone with a script or talking points, or staging events that he will later report as "news".

Posted by: fischy | October 29, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I never expected that...

Posted by: Reignking | October 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

@beach3: Ditto.

What will it take for Chang to realize that this man is not the leader he self reports to be?

Posted by: dsheon1 | October 29, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Payne's comments spark a legitimate debate on the retrograde tactics used by some MLS clubs (much like some clubs in more established leagues). MLS's fine makes the league look petty and insecure, and less committed to bringing more beautiful soccer to the fans.

Posted by: Section304 | October 29, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

No I don't agree with the fine but I do agree with the comments.....I buy the DirectKick every year and can hardly tolerate a majority of the games in the league.
I also disagree with leagues fining coaches for speaking the truth about refs - like the SEC recnetly, the NBA always, etc.
And I disagree with Mr. fischy, but that is normal.

Posted by: marksman37 | October 29, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I buy the DirectKick every year and can hardly tolerate a majority of the games in the league.

Posted by: marksman37 | October 29, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

---------------------------------------

But is that because of teams putting 10 behind the ball or because of defenders who can't pass to midfielders, forwards who stand around instead of making intelligent runs, hack defensive midfielders who take out players nowhere near the ball, childish players who throw or kick away the ball anytime they don't get a call they don't like or scrums of players who nearly mug officials whenever there is a call they don't like (right or wrong)?

I don't think most people would argue that MLS has bad games. Hell, every league does. But I think Kevin was seriously misguided in blaming these tactics and praising DC as some beacon of hope instead of looking at the true areas where the league needs to improve, and he did so out of spite because he helped put together a team which failed.

Posted by: beach3 | October 29, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Payne does to watch talking not enough walking.

and why would MLS fine someone for telling the truth. I don't understand that.

Posted by: Norteno4life | October 29, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Dear Kevin,

We don't want to hear excuses, we just want to win.

Posted by: Norteno4life | October 29, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, was Rev broadcaster Brad Feldman whining to the league again??

Posted by: goaldigger | October 29, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

What the hell? I hate this league. I love DC United but I hate this league. Who wrong with comment on a team's style of play and then saying that you don't like it?

Posted by: AtlantaMLS | October 29, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

A team president gets fined $5,000 for telling the painful truth about other teams in the league. But, the commissioner can threaten to move a club to another city if it doesn't get a stadium deal done. I can't see how what Paine has said is worse.

Goff what do you think about this? A cultivated contact has gotten himself in hot water by confiding in you. I'm not saying you should not have reported this, but it will limit the "candid" conversations that you will have with team officials.

Why don't you put you're blogger hat on and go "Kornheiser" on the commissioner. I'm sure more that a few would enjoy it.

Posted by: tkelley55 | October 29, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

How does one confide in a reporter during an interview? KP and SG are no Barbaras Bush and Walters.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 29, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Sour grapes from Payne. The 2009 DC United team played a lot of really pedestrian soccer.

But I agree that New England are awful to watch. The way to get around that is to beat them. I don't see NHL general managers whining about Jacques Lemaire, even though his teams make many hockey games a chore to watch. Instead, good opponents beat them with fast play and good passing.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | October 29, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

MJ is back! We missed you!

Posted by: edgeonyou | October 29, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

There is much that is accurate about what Payne said. His delivery sucked though and picking fights with others who are playing post season ball looks...well I'll be nice and say it just does not look well.

I get it Mr. Payne, taking the T to fire up the team and the fans. Talking smack, be it out of anger or desperation (or both), to show the fire in your belly. THE ANGER at what we have become. But like I said before, you know when you went on your crazy banter - "less talkie-talkie more fixie-fixie". I want a serious game plan that will elevate this team back to the top. Your noise making sounds befitting of a small club, which we are not so pipe it down and go to work. Because I'll tell you this, one more season like the last two and there will be hell to pay.

Oh and yes, pay the fine, which you probably knew you had coming anyways, then GO TO WORK!!! You have no control over other people's sucky tactics or teams, but guess what you have control over your's.

Posted by: Kosh2 | October 29, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone know how this is handled in other leagues? Do NFL, MLB, or NBA teams insult each other's style of play? When I open up the Sports section, I usually flip straight to soccer."

No, the adult leagues do not tolerate those kinds of comments about other teams- and the fines for making such comments are much higher.

And it is not a journalist's fault for reporting something stupid someone says. The journalist is not your buddy with whom you trade secrets. His job is to report.

Posted by: captainwierd | October 29, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

1. Distinguish between playing badly (which DCU did a lot of this year) and playing a system of play that isn't very creative. For instance, you can win a lot of games by playing 8-10 men behind the ball or playing directly. And you can play those systems well. But that doesn't mean they're entertaining (except to the fans of those teams and then, only if they win, and sometimes not even then). And that's the point that Payne I think was trying to make--that MLS should seek to attack, play creative-possesion-oriented soccer rather than lower UK division direct kickball that is high on long kicks from the backline and running and low on dummies and clever touches and unlocking a defense by passing rather than outrunning someone to a 50-50 punt.

2. Yes, Payne was accurate in his statements (though phrased in a way so they came off a bit like sour grapes).

3. Yes, the league was right to fine him. The league fined that Houston assistant who posted the derogatory column about DCU (all Fred does is kick people, only 1 DCU player would start for Houston, Management doesn't give Soehn the opportunity to be a good coach and micro-manages too much, DCU's draft day this past year was a circus, etc.). It's entertaining to hear dirt about other players and teams but it's often not in the league's best interest. So it's easier just to fine anyone who publicly criticizes other teams rather than try and sort out "okay, when Clavijo said it he was just whining but when Payne said it he was accurate."

Posted by: JoeW1 | October 29, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The fact that he didn't admit to our contribution to the unwatchable factor. I'd rather watch a team effectively play defensively on purpose than see Fred dribbles like a chicken with his head cut off while Gomez lolligags at midfield, Emilio is running 20 yards away in the opposite direction, and four guys who haven't played defense since they were U-10 players are wondering just what in the hell they are doing out there.

But most of all, he should be fined for such whiny, sour grapes comments that totally ignore the culpability of our coaches and players for missing the playoffs.

Posted by: beach3 | October 29, 2009 2:36 PM
-----------------------------

This made me laugh, not only because of the comedy factor but also the truth involved in it.

Hopefully Beach3 won't be fined $5K from the Soccer Insider for also speaking the truth.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 29, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

Posted by: DadRyan | October 29, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Dear MLS,

Your league isn't that great, but it's all we've got. Accept the fact that your league plays second fiddle to most leagues in the world. It is a subject of jokes in Europe and will one day become equal with major leagues in the world. But for now, accept the reality.

Yours Truly.

Posted by: adamsunited | October 29, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Just think if the Special One coached in this league. The fines alone would pay for his salary.

Posted by: Verrazzano | October 29, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"MJ is back! We missed you!"

Flattering! I was just waiting for the season to end. I didn't expect you guys would made the playoffs or keep going in CONCACAF, but I didn't want any prediction to be gleefully flung back at me. Let's all join together to give the 2009 MLS season a well-deserved burial at sea, and hold hands as we cheer against Seattle.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | October 29, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Beach3

I LIKE the way you think!

Posted by: Ruthie1 | October 29, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Payne deserved a bonus not a fine: a lot of games are unwatchable and dreary. Coaches are obsessed with not losing too badly, many teams are painfully unimaginative and flair is repressed. Familiar Tommy? No way Payne's comments brought the league into any disrepute. Breath of fresh air in a stale room.

Posted by: oz4dcu | October 29, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Guys, every league has unwatchable games. That's partly why the less glamorous games from some of the European leagues aren't getting good ratings on ESPN2. That's why soccer can sometimes be frustrating as hell. It's not an MLS problem, although the league has some issues to solve which could result in fewer games like that.

As far as MLS being a "joke" in Europe, why do players come over here then? Why do they ask Garber to come speak to them about some of the things we do? Why do players have very few problems finding contracts, albeit in the smaller, less prestigious leagues?

Why is it that any small nugget of criticism has to be extrapolated to this horrific slam of the league? Believe it or not, it's possible to express that MLS needs to improve the quality of play without sounding like a 14-year-old hopped up on Ritalin egging on his friends in a fight.

Posted by: beach3 | October 29, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Payne got fined $5,000 means that MLS equates Payne's comments with David Beckham's challenge of a fan to enter the field during halftime of the Galaxy-Milan friendly. That equation, in itself, is ridiculous and asinine. What Beckham did was far more damaging to the image of the league.

Besides, Garber did NOTHING when Cuauhtemoc Blanco clocked a couple of people (including a security guard) during the U.S. Open Cup game against United -- which was far worse than what either Beckham or Payne did. Yes, it was an Open Cup game, not an MLS game, but that's merely a convenient excuse for Garber to sit on his hands. The last time I checked, both the Fire and United are league members.

Posted by: JosephDHippolito | October 29, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Joseph: Blanco was fined $7500 by MLS for his behavior in that Open Cup game.

But something tells me that won't make you feel better, which would say more about you than it would say about anything else.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | October 30, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

At the very least, his remarks came off as sour grapes and that is unprofessional. As a fan, I don't care WHY you didn't make the playoffs, I just care that you DIDN't make the playoffs. Fix it and move on but don't sit there and tell me it isn't fair that teams who bunker make the playoff offs because you play prettier football. That sounds like every interview that Mexico gives after the US beats them.

Were the remarks fine worthy? I think so. What he said could very well be true, but you still can't go out and criticize the league. Same as you can't criticize a ref to the media after bad calls even if the ref WAS wrong. It's not just in MLS, either. Every professional sport in this country has similar rules and fines.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | October 30, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Mastodon Juan, I do feel better knowing that information. Thank you for correcting me. Nevertheless, what Payne said cannot be equated to what Beckham did. If Payne had to be fined, a smaller amount would have been appropriate, I think.

Posted by: JosephDHippolito | October 30, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Let me put it another way: If Payne had to be fined $5,000, then Alexi Lalas should have been fined $500,000 for single-handedly running the Galaxy into the ground during his tenure as GM -- and Leiweke/Anschutz should have been fined $5 million for letting him do it.

Then again, we all know who runs this league, and it's not Don Garber.

Posted by: JosephDHippolito | October 30, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

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