Wayne Rooney speaks with MLS commissioner Don Garber on July 18. Jul 18, 2023; Washington, D.C., USA; MLS All Star head coach Wayne Rooney (L) talks with MLS commissioner Don Garber (R) during a training session on The National Mall before the 2023 MLS All Star Game. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Broadcaster involvement during games sometimes gets controversial, and that sometimes includes discussion of where broadcast figures are sitting. Around the MLS All-Star Game Wednesday (where a team of selected MLS players lost 5-0 to Arsenal), though, there’s now a debate on if staffers from MLS global broadcaster Apple were in fact sitting on the MLS bench or not. Wayne Rooney, the manager of the MLS all-star team (and normally the manager of D.C. United), made the claim that Apple staffers were taking up seats on the bench in a post-match press conference Wednesday night:

Here are those full quotes, via the BBC:

 “I think everything around the game is great and it’s great publicity for the league moving forward.

“Obviously Apple coming into the league as well has been great – although they didn’t allow my staff to sit in their seats today.

“My staff got kicked out of their seats today by members of Apple. I wouldn’t be doing my staff a service if I didn’t bring that up because if you’re getting asked to do the game with your staff, you expect your staff to have seats to sit in.

“Although I do think Apple will help the league moving forward.”

However, on Thursday, MLS commissioner Don Garber sent out a statement disputing Rooney’s claim:

It’s quite something to have a league commissioner publicly disputing a claim from a coach. And it raises questions about just what happened here.

It seems unlikely that Rooney completely made up that members of his coaching staff weren’t able to sit where they normally would. But perhaps he got the identity of just who moved them wrong. (And, if so, it would be interesting to find out who it actually was. And Rooney does have a noted investigative journalist in his family; perhaps Coleen can conduct another sting.)

There may also have just been some level of miscommunication here. At any rate, it’s not a great look for MLS. And if Apple wasn’t actually to blame, they’re probably not thrilled at having a coach from their long-term league partner rip them publicly this way.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.