MLS May 6, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; A general view of the Apple TV logo on the sleeve of FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez (19) after the game against D.C. United at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

A potentially disruptive situation is developing in Major League Soccer. According to ESPN, MLS club FC Cincinnati suspended a local reporter’s credentials after disputes about her reports emerged.

ESPN’s U.S. soccer corresponded Jeff Carlisle reported the details, which featured local reporter Laurel Pfahler, who had claims of hers disputed by the club, ultimately leading to a two-week suspension.

“The MLS club made the decision a week ago Friday to revoke Pfahler’s credential for two weeks. Pfahler, who writes for the Queen City Press, communicated the suspension to her readers two days later,” Carlisle wrote.

FC Cincinnati released a statement, which, according to ESPN, in part read: “Pfahler has failed to act in accordance with the standards and practices of the Society of Professional Journalists and the MLS Notice of Credentials Use Conditions. She refuses to accept responsibility for her actions despite multiple conversations and attempts at working together to forge a productive relationship between her and the club. Out of professional decorum, we will not be sharing the details publicly.”

The situation is a bit more confounding beneath the surface, though. Pfahler released a statement that strongly disagreed with the MLS club’s ruling that led to her credential suspension. Her story reads a little differently.

“I strongly disagree with the statement that I violated any journalism ethics or MLS Credential guidelines. Last week, when I asked for examples as to why I had lost credentials, I was told three situations where I spoke to sources outside of the facility or team-approved interviews. I do not believe simply talking with sources within the team is how to cover a professional franchise,” Pfahler said in her response.

The story also says, “Among Pfahler’s stories that the club objected to centered on the recent loan of Alvaro Barreal to Brazilian Serie A side Cruzeiro, in particular reporting by Pfahler that Barreal’s departure wasn’t because he was unhappy at the club. The team also took issue with Pfahler not reaching out to verify aspects of the stories.”

According to ESPN, Cincinnati’s stance essentially is that “Pfahler violated the portion that refers to misappropriating any description or account.”

From Pfahler’s side, it’s easy to see an issue with FC Cincinnati wanting control of the narrative. This is not unusual behavior from professional sports franchises, although not many of them suspend reporters either.

[ESPN, Jeffrey Carlisle]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022