FIFA tells judge it plans to change rule barring clubs from playing abroad by end of year

An attorney representing FIFA in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed against it by a New York-based sports promoter said in federal court on Thursday that a rule change allowing official foreign matches to be played on U.S. soil could come “before the end of the year.”

The declaration came in a hearing on the antitrust case filed by Revelent Sports against FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation; a rare public appearance by attorneys from all parties in their years-long legal dispute that could significantly change the business of club soccer in the United States.

Required reading:

Last month, Relevent and FIFA said they reached a settlement agreement that would, among other things, drop FIFA as a co-defendant in the legal matter “without prejudice.” Little has been shared publicly about the details of their arrangement.

Thursday’s hearing was meant to be a status conference on the case, but there seemed to be confusion in the courtroom, with attorneys and even judge Valerie E. Caproni asking repeatedly: “Why are we here?”

If FIFA were to change its rules barring domestic league matches being played on foreign soil, then the premise of the antitrust battle may be moot. That’s because the rules that U.S. Soccer said it followed that prevented the foreign matches proposed by Relevent in 2018 may no longer be an issue.

“I expect, before discovery is over, there will be a separate set of rules in place,” FIFA’s attorney H. Christopher Boehning said in court on Thursday. When pressed by Caproni about when those changes might come, he said they could happen “before the end of the year.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to questions seeking further clarification Thursday afternoon.

Christopher S. Yates, the attorney representing the USSF, said in court he did not know the details of FIFA and Relevent’s settlement, or whether the agreement kept players from being penalized for participating in foreign matches. He said, “This seems like a waste of everyone’s resources … if FIFA is considering a change to the rules.”

There remains a question over damages owed, though, said attorney Adam Dale, who is representing Relevent. He said the promoter is opposed to dismissing the suit altogether because, even if FIFA is dropped from the suit and teir rules are changed, his client still believes they are owed damages by USSF over the matches that could have been played since the legal dispute began.

U.S. Soccer stands “to lose millions” fighting this dispute “to a billionaire owner,” Yates said, alluding to Stephen Ross, the billionaire that co-founded the sports promoter. Ross is also owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“We are a nonprofit organization trying to grow the game of soccer,” Yates said.

After the brief conference, Caproni gave the parties one week to determine whether they’d like the court to get involved in their stipulations. She then will decide how the case will proceed. For now, the matter remains pending, with discovery still in motion. The next status conference is slated for October, with various deadlines before that.



Explaining Relevent Sports’ lawsuit against FIFA, U.S. Soccer

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for Premier League)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top