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FIFA legal North America

Claim Filed Against FIFA, Concacaf and USSF over Pro-Rel

MIAMI, Fla. (August 3, 2017) —

Two lower-tier teams in the U.S. have launched a claim with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to try and impose promotion and relegation in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, Miami FC of the NASL (second-tier) and Kingston Stockade FC of the NPSL (unofficially the fourth-tier) revealed they have filed a claim with the CAS to force FIFA, CONCACAF and the US Soccer Federation (USSF) to usher in promotion and relegation in the U.S. soccer pyramid.

The closed system for soccer used here in the United Sates is in violation of FIFA rules.”

Miami FC CEO Sean Flynn

They say the “claim contends that unlike the way the game is played throughout the world where results on the pitch define which division a team plays in, American teams are illegitimately blocked from the same opportunity because of the USSF’s failure to follow FIFA’s rules.”

Major League Soccer is the undisputed top-tier of club soccer in North America with the only way to enter the league via paying an expansion fee (currently set for over $140 million) and being selected by an “expansion committee” as a viable location for a new team.

Below is the statement in full with FIFA, the USSF and CONCACAF named as defendants in the claim.

“When it comes to soccer success, America lags behind the rest of the world. One reason is because our system is not an open system and is actually blocked from becoming an open system,” said Kingston Stockade FC owner Dennis Crowley. “By embracing pro/rel and using this tried-and-true system, we would have a greater ability to unlock additional soccer markets, reward investment in those markets, and create new talent pools within the United States.”

“The closed system for soccer used here in the United Sates is in violation of FIFA rules,” Miami FC CEO Sean Flynn said in a statement. “By adopting the rules followed by virtually every other soccer playing nation around the globe, soccer in America will be open, resulting in better teams through all divisions, compelling story lines to increase fan excitement and greater financial success for everyone involved in this beautiful game.”

Recently the owner of Miami FC, Riccardo Silva, used his media company to offer Major League Soccer $4 billion for a 10-year TV deal but with one condition: promotion and relegation had to be implemented.

With USL (second-tier) growing and NASL (also second-tier) recovering from a rough spell, in general lower tier teams across the USA and Canada are experiencing rapid growth with high-profile owners such as Didier Drogba (Phoenix Rising) and Eden Hazard (San Diego, NASL) flooding to the lower leagues.

MLS and USL are somewhat intertwined, with an increasing number of MLS clubs fielding teams in USL. This makes it difficult for USL to publicly endorse promotion and relegation, but it’s likely there’s a strong hunger for some form of promotion and relegation, at the least within the USL.

Some commentators found the timing of this announcement to be interesting. It came less than 24 hours after a sellout crowd of over 60,000 spectators at Chicago’s Soldier Field watched the MLS All-Stars lose on penalties to Real Madrid. MLS Commissioner Don Garber was interviewed at halftime and mentioned David Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami is close to being finalized. The Miami FC of course was able to get launched and find success during the time that the Beckham team has been unable to move from the concept stage into real life.

Russo Soccer | 2017


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By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with the commercial, communications and team operations side of the sport. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on the business and sporting side of the world's game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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