Plans for outdoor league shaky


NEW YORK -- Officials of the U.S. Soccer Federation are convinced that the formation of a truly professional outdoor league is imperative if the United States is to be successful in the 1994 World Cup.

But there are strong indications that the resources for such a league are limited.

Several owners from the Major Soccer League, which recently dropped the word indoor from its name, have expressed interest in the outdoor league the federation wants to put into effect in 1992, but Earl Foreman, the league's commissioner, has made it abundantly clear that his league "will not become an outdoor league."

"We're an indoor league and we will stay that way," Foreman said in a telephone interview. "We're where we wanted to be 12 years ago, charging $22 a ticket in some cities. Some of my owners want to try outdoor for part of the season, but they are convinced their business is indoor soccer."

The MSL will stage two experiments with outdoor soccer this week.

A select team from the league will meet the national team of the United States in games in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday and St. Louis on Sunday.

Foreman said the MSL planned to shorten its season to give teams enough time to play outdoors in the summer. He said next season's playoffs would end May 15, with plans to end the playoffs by May 1 in 1992.

Although Foreman has expressed reluctance about going the outdoor route full time, he is a businessman no different than the marketing wizards on Madison Avenue who view the 1994 World Cup, which will be held in this country for the first time ever, as an opportunity.

Foreman is a key player because he is destined to be the chairman of the committee that will make recommendations for the formation of the outdoor league.

There are a large number of people within the soccer community who feel that Foreman is being given the job because Alan Rothenberg owes his recent surprise election as the head of the U.S. Soccer Federation to the support of Foreman and the MSL.

"Alan owes him, and that's why he's put him in a high position," a person familiar with the Foreman's relationship with Rothenberg said.

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