SBD/August 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Judge Rules In Favor Of U.S. Soccer Federation In Antitrust Suit

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber "ruled for the U.S. Soccer Federation in an antitrust and racketeering lawsuit filed by a defunct promoter but also reaffirmed his decision that Congress’ amateur sports act gave the governing body authority over only Olympic events and not the entire professional sport in the country," according to Ronald Blum of the AP. The USSF "was pleased with the opinion" in the six-year-old case. Leinenweber "issued a summary judgment Friday in a suit filed by ChampionsWorld LLC against the USSF and Major League Soccer, a case that claimed the two conspired to put the promoter out of business." But he "refused to change his 2010 decision that the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1998 'gives USSF no more of an antitrust exemption or authority over professional soccer than necessary for it to oversee Olympic and related events.'" The USSF said that it "has sole authority over professional soccer in the United States because it is recognized by FIFA." USSF's lead lawyer Russ Sauer of L.A.-based firm Latham & Watkinssaid, "We are pleased that the court ruled in U.S. Soccer’s favor. Neither the earlier ruling nor the Ted Stevens Act impacts U.S. Soccer’s authority over professional soccer" (AP, 8/17). SOCCERAMERICA's Paul Kennedy noted in the 82-page opinion issued Friday, Leinenweber "threw out the expert testimony of University of Michigan professor Rodney Fort on behalf of ChampionsWorld on the market for international soccer matches in the United States and therefore ruled ChampionsWorld failed to prove the elements of an antitrust case under the Sherman Act" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 8/18). NBCSPORTS.com's Steve Davis wrote, "Circle this as a story that never became a big deal -- but certainly could have been" (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/17).
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