Relevent Sports yesterday filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in a "sudden escalation of a long simmering feud," claiming the federation is "jeopardizing Relevent’s soccer promotion business and has a conflict of interest in sanctioning professional matches," according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. Relevent is a promoter that brings high-profile European clubs to the U.S. each summer to "play exhibition matches in football stadiums" during its Int'l Champions Cup. However, yesterday's lawsuit "makes clear that the company has ambitions outside its usual summer window." Thwarted in its efforts to bring a Spanish league match to the U.S. in January, Relevent’s "latest attempt is an Ecuadorean first-division match between Barcelona SC and Guayaquil City, scheduled for May 5 in Miami." Relevent has "written approval for the match from both Ecuador’s soccer federation and Conmebol," but according to the lawsuit, USSF has "refused to sanction the game." USSF has the "authority to sanction all professional soccer matches played in the country." It is also "allowed to collect sanctioning fees." According to the lawsuit, USSF has "chosen not to sanction the match" because it has questions about whether Relevent’s listed match agent -- Relevent Chair Charlie Stillitano -- is a "properly certified and insured FIFA match agent" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/23).
READ THE FINE PRINT: The lawsuit goes on to contend that the "only possible explanation for this blatant disregard of its own charter is that USSF is economically conflicted and is abusing its authority, in order to protect" MLS. It adds, “In refusing to sanction Relevent’s application, USSF has thus elevated the economic interest of a select group of its members over its statutorily-mandated purpose.” MLS and its owners own Soccer United Marketing, which holds the commercial and marketing rights for USSF and also promotes other international matches in the U.S. (Ian Thomas, THE DAILY).
The Pacific Pro Football League will launch next summer as a start-up football league that "plans to function as an alternate path to the NFL," offering young prospects a "paid option to pursue their development," according to Ryan Kartje of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The league plans to "follow NFL rules, with practices wide open to NFL scouts and adhering to NFL rules, all catered" toward NFL evaluation. Pac Pro Founder Don Yee said, "Envision the Senior Bowl over a two-month season." The Pac Pro plans to "pay players an average salary of $50,000 for a two-month season, with room for high-profile players to be offered more." Outside sponsorships and personal branding opportunities will be "strongly encouraged," and Adidas has "already signed on as a league partner." Pac Pro also "plans to offer free community college or vocational program tuition" for interested players. Yee: "Most of these players want to know, 'How can you get me ready for the NFL?' From a football standpoint, what we'll have to demonstrate is that if you come play with us, we'll definitely shorten your learning curve. We'll help you reduce the risk of failing out of the NFL." Yee said that he believes it would "only take one elite player to potentially change the path to the NFL forever" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/21).
WINNING COMBINATION: In Austin, Cedric Golden wrote the XFL could "work for several reasons," but it "has to be done right" or Founder Vince McMahon's investment will vanish. McMahon "hired the right man to run the league" in Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck, who then "brought in great coaches." McMahon and Luck are now "taking some chances with the traditional format" of on-field play (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 4/20).