Dear Major League Soccer and the Seattle Sounders FC,
I’m writing to bring up an issue I’ve been having with your product.
First off, I’m a long time customer and have enjoyed purchasing your team merchandise, tickets to games, and viewing your sporting events on local and national television broadcasts for many years. I believe that sporting events can have unrivaled entertainment value, and that soccer can provide experiences that are unique among sports. I greatly value having a domestic soccer league and a local team. It provides me with access to more personal and participatory customer experiences. I’ve also enjoyed the continued improvement of your product via improved event production, player talent, marketing, etc.
I’m writing to let you know that the quality of product I experienced in the Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer game on March 19, 2016 was significantly below my expectations. I understand that, as with every sporting event, there are a number of factors (e.g. the stadium and staff, the live event production, the radio and television broadcasts, the staff of each soccer club, the play on the field) that contribute to the final product that you provide me. However for this event, I felt that the referee of the competition performed his job so badly that it overshadowed all of the good things you were providing, and actually spoiled the entire experience for me.
I accept that in sports and maybe more in soccer, things won’t always go your team’s way or the final result won’t always be fair; this is a significant part of the soccer-fan experience. I also accept that referees are human and not only make mistakes, but do a difficult job that sometimes requires making decisions that are left to their discretion. In this event however, the referee’s performance was egregiously bad, prompting me to speak up. It’s one thing for me to think, "That’s life, that’s soccer, or that’s sports." It should be another thing when your customers think that something is wrong with what you’re providing them.
Although the overall entertainment experience of this MLS/SSFC sporting event may not have been ruined for many people, I think most would agree that the referee’s performance detracted from the overall quality of the game that you were promoting. Considering the impact the referee can single handedly have on the customer experience, it concerns me because this has been an ongoing issue for your product.
I’ve gone to games with people who don’t know anything about soccer but decided to buy tickets and go to a Sounders match because, in Seattle at least, it’s a fun thing to do. My father lives in the Midwest, but will occasionally turn on a Sounders game if he gets the broadcast because they’re one of the premier teams in MLS (i.e. quality product). I worry that a few bad experiences may negatively brand the MLS in this "casual fan" demographic. There are even instances, such as the above mentioned game, when the problem can completely undermine the quality of the experience for established consumers.
As stated above, I found the quality of the product that you provided me in the above event to be unacceptable low and that this has been a problem to some degree with your product for some time. Hopefully this feedback will help. I look forward to the continued improvement of the entertainment experience you offer because I really do love it most of the time.