US: Non-MLS soccer teams take relegation fight to arbitration court

Two American soccer teams, Kingston Stockade FC of the National Premier Soccer League and The Miami FC of the North American Soccer League on Thursday August 3 filed a claim with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to require the US Soccer Federation (USSF) to adopt promotion and relegation across all divisions in US soccer.

The claim contends that unlike the way the game is played throughout the world where results on the pitch define which division a team plays in, American teams are illegitimately blocked from the same opportunity because of the US Soccer Federation’s (USSF) failure to follow FIFA’s rules.

The international soccer federation (FIFA), which governs the sport worldwide, requires its members to practice promotion and relegation. The claim simply asks the USSF, a FIFA member, to comply with FIFA’s rules. By not practicing promotion and relegation, the United States and Australia are the only two members among FIFA’s 211 member associations that violate this basic rule.

Kingston Stockade FC and The Miami FC strongly believe openness and meritocracy should be the foundation of US soccer. Both American teams believe that the disregard of a critical FIFA rule in the US is detrimental to the sport of soccer in the US.

This filing is controversial in that the major professional and collegiate leagues in the US operate on a closed-franchise structure (without promotion and relegation), which drastically reduces risk to owners and favors profitability. Adoption of promotion and relegation would imply a significant change in the rules of the game for existing franchises which have paid the expansion fees.

“When it comes to soccer success, America lags behind the rest of the world,” Stockade owner Dennis Crowley said in a joint statement.

“One reason is because our system is not an open system and is actually blocked from becoming an open system.

“By embracing pro/rel and using this tried-and-true system, we would have a greater ability to unlock additional soccer markets, reward investment in those markets, and create new talent pools within the United States.”

Full Content: Reuters

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