A lawsuit alleging antitrust actions by United States Soccer Federation in denying the NASL Division II status for 2018 has been amended to include Major League Soccer.
The lawsuit now seeks to strike down the American soccer pyramid under antitrust provisions, reinstating NASL Division II status. NASL lost attempts for an preliminary injunction that would have allowed it to play as a Division II league in 2018. Since then, several NASL teams have folded or jumped to Division II USL, leaving just three teams — New York Cosmos, Jacksonville Armada and Miami FC — as going concerns, participating the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season. According to an NASL press release, the amended complaint now seeks to both strike down the “Professional League Standards” allegedly used used by USSF and MLS to injure NASL and to recover the millions of dollars in damages allegedly caused by the anticompetitive practices of USSF and MLS. Basically, MLS was added because the league and its affiliate Soccer United Marketing have exerted too much influence over the USSF decision-making process, causing damage to NASL and raising USL to Division II status.
NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal issued the following statement:
The focus of the antitrust suit to date was obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season which ultimately was not possible. The harm to competition and damages caused by losing the 2018 Season are being felt far and wide as our business has been ground to a halt and fans, players, sponsors, vendors and all of the stakeholders who play a role in bringing the NASL to life are being negatively impacted.
In addition to compensation for the damages suffered by NASL, we are seeking a permanent injunction to strike down the shield of the Professional League Standards that have been designed and applied to protect MLS from competition. Competition ultimately brings out the best in industry and we are confident that opening the market for professional soccer will allow the U.S. to fully embrace its power as a soccer nation benefitting players, clubs and entire communities around the country. While the suit continues, we are committed to exploring all avenues to return to play in 2019.
In addition, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty, which have harmed the NASL.
Image courtesy NASL.
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