The Ottawa Fury FC sanctioning dispute is now before the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as the club announced Wednesday it is seeking relief.
Despite previous rumors that it would join the upstart Canadian Premier League next season, Ottawa was slated to return to USL Championship–the Division II circuit under the USL umbrella–as its lone Canadian club in 2019. Although both the Canada Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation confirmed the club’s return to the circuit, CONCACAF–the governing body for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean–did not sanction Fury FC for 2019 play in USL Championship.
Fury FC has been fighting CONCACAF’s decision, and will now turn to the independent body CAS to mediate the issue. Ottawa is emphasizing that the CAS’ involvement is needed, because training camp and the USL Championship’s 2019 campaign is rapidly approaching and the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future has created complications leading up to this season. More from the Canadian Press:
“We are on the clock,” Mark Goudie, president and CEO of the Fury’s parent Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “In the current situation, only four weeks before the scheduled start of training camp, Fury FC is unable to sign players or sell tickets because of the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future.
“We need a rapid resolution to the dispute and that’s what the CAS was established to provide.”
The USL, meanwhile, released its 2019 schedule on Wednesday with Ottawa slated to open play March 9 at the Charleston Battery. Ottawa’s home opener is scheduled for April 6 against Nashville SC.
Given the launch of the CPL, CONCACAF says it does not see the “exceptional circumstances” needed to sanction Ottawa Fury FC playing in the U.S.-dominated USL.
Until the club publicly stated its 2019 plans in September, it was speculated that Fury FC could shift to the Canadian Premier League. Although it did not rule out a future change in leagues, the club noted at the time that stability was one of the main factors in its decision to stick with the USL. In a statement issued Wednesday, the club indicated that with the sanctioning dispute “now before the CAS, Fury FC will not provide any further comment until a ruling has been made.”
Image courtesy Ottawa Fury FC.