NASL War vs US Soccer Widens, MLS Added As A Defendant
Losing the first round for injunctive relief in federal court in New York's Eastern Diistrict, the lawsuit commenced by the North American Soccer League against US Soccer is anything but dead -- in fact, its grown by leagus and bounds.
The NASL smarting from its loses so far has added Major League Soccer as a defendant by amending complaint in its anti-trust litigation.
The lawsuit, amongst other things, alleges violation of federal antitrust laws and seeks to strike down the anticompetitive “Professional League Standards” that US Soccer and MLS have used to shield MLS from competition. The NASL also wants to recover the millions of dollars in damages.
US Soccer last September rescinded the NASL’s temporary Division II status.
In response, the NASL filed its antitrust suit which sought a preliminary injunction to preserve the NASL’s Division II status. Although the injunctive relief sought was denied, the lawsuit continues.
The NASL claims that "MLS’s dominance over USSF is readily apparent with the influence it has over USSF’s board of directors and USSF’s National Council and more cleverly disguised through the relationship of MLS-affiliate Soccer United Marketing and USSF.”
With only several teams remaining in the NASL, the league decided not to hold a 2018 season.
NASL's interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal issued a statement that “the focus of the anti-trust 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."
Sehgal added that “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 to forcing the cancellation of the 2018 season," Sengal claims that, "the impact of the USSF’s decision has also caused 1904 FC and California United to withdraw from the NASL. During the NASL’s hiatus, three NASL members, the Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC and New York Cosmos, will be fielding teams in the National Premier Soccer League with play scheduled to begin on April 15, 2018."
“In addition to the antitrust suit, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF board members for conflicts of interest and dereliction of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer.”