New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso is not mincing words when it comes to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), as he had strong criticisms for the agency in recent comments.
The Cosmos have been a member of the NASL for the last several years, but that league’s future has been in doubt since the USSF announced in September that it would not extend its Division II status into 2018. There has been significant legal fallout since, including an ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed by the NASL against USSF. More recently, the league lost an appeal to obtain a preliminary injuction that would allow it to remain a Division II league.
Since the loss of that appeal, the NASL has announced that it would forgo the 2018 season while three remaining members–the Cosmos, Miami FC, and Jacksonville Armada FC–would shift to the National Premier Soccer League. Commisso discussed the situation on Thursday, and took USSF leadership to task for a number of issues, including its decision to deny NASL Division II status while granting it to the USL and the agency’s relationship with MLS marketing arm Soccer United Marketing.
He also took shots at a former NASL owner–North Carolina FC‘s Steve Malik–and his relationship with USSF. More from ESPN:
Commisso also accused North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik of engaging in a “double play” by moving his team from the NASL to the USL, applying for an MLS expansion team, as well as acquiring a team in the NWSL and moving to North Carolina.
Malik was appointed to the USSF board of directors in March, and Commisso called it a “payoff” from the USSF to use NCFC’s stadium for both a U.S. women’s national game against South Korea last October and men’s national team game against Paraguay later this month.
There has been no evidence of illegality on the part of the USSF or Malik, but Commisso still took exception to the relationship.
“That’s the way [the USSF] do business,” Commisso said. “‘You take care of me, I’ll take care of you, as long as it’s within our own family because we are in charge of soccer. We are the ones that everybody has to go through if you want to play a part of soccer.’
Though the NASL lost its appeal for a preliminary injunction, it is continuing with its antitrust lawsuit and a separate legal case against directors of the USSF board for an alleged breach of fiduciary duties to the league. The league intended at one point to continue play in 2018 under the international soccer calendar, with an August-to-June season. However, that plan was dropped when the league lost its appeal.
In the period since the USSF’s announcement, the NASL has lost several of its teams. North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven both shifted to the USL, while FC Edmonton and San Francisco Deltas folded. The league had expansion teams planned for San Diego and Orange County in 2018, but the San Diego club–1904 FC—has indicated that it will move to the USL and begin play in 2019.
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