The Monopolization of Soccer: NASL’s Antitrust Lawsuit Challenges US Soccer and MLS

The Monopolization of Soccer: NASL’s Antitrust Lawsuit Challenges US Soccer and MLS

The world of soccer has been marred by controversies and power struggles, with the North American Soccer League (NASL) taking a stand against the monopolization of the sport. In their ongoing antitrust lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer (MLS), NASL seeks to expose a perceived conspiracy aimed at hindering competition and stifling their league specifically. This article delves into the case, shedding light on the implications of monopolization and the potential consequences for the sport.

NASL’s Lawsuit: An Overview The antitrust lawsuit filed by NASL in September 2017 centers around their rejection for Division 2 sanctions by the US Soccer Federation. Spearheaded by New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso, the lawsuit initially targeted the Federation and later added MLS as a defendant. NASL claims that MLS and the Federation colluded to implement rules and procedures, known as the Professional League Standards (PLS), designed to impede competition and disadvantage NASL.

Summary Judgment Motion: Seeking Resolution With the discovery phase seemingly completed, NASL is now seeking a summary judgment ruling to effectively conclude the lawsuit without going to trial. This motion specifically addresses the antitrust conspiracy allegations, which are considered the most critical aspect of the case. NASL contends that MLS and the Federation conspired to implement the PLS to shield MLS from competition and hamper NASL’s progress.

Challenges and Redacted Evidence: The NASL’s summary judgment letter faces several challenges, including the need to demonstrate concerted action by USSF and MLS that unreasonably restrains trade. However, much of the evidence supporting these claims remains redacted, making it difficult to fully assess the arguments presented. The lawsuit implicates key figures such as former USSF president Sunil Gulati, whose close ties to USSF and MLS are viewed as evidence of a cozy relationship detrimental to fair competition.

Unreasonable Restraint of Trade: NASL argues that the adoption and application of the PLS by USSF and MLS constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade. They claim that the standards were implemented with a bias favoring certain competitors and designed to protect MLS and its reserve league, USL, from any competition. The NASL also questions the fairness of the sanctioning process, alleging pressure and negligence on the part of federation board members.

Implications and Next Steps: While it remains to be seen how the court will rule on the summary judgment motion, the implications of this lawsuit go beyond monetary damages for NASL. The NASL’s pursuit of relief against the PLS raises questions about the necessity and fairness of these regulations. However, given NASL’s uncertain future as an entity, the focus may primarily be on monetary compensation.

MLS and USSF will have the opportunity to respond to the pleading and present their own summary judgment motions. The court will then evaluate the arguments and evidence, considering the implications for competition in the soccer industry. The outcome of this case could shape the future landscape of soccer in North America and potentially address concerns regarding monopolization.

Conclusion: The antitrust lawsuit brought forth by NASL against USSF and MLS represents a significant challenge to the monopolization of soccer in North America. The outcome of this case has the potential to impact the sport’s competitive landscape, fairness, and the balance of power among leagues. As the legal battle continues, it is crucial to address concerns surrounding monopolistic practices and foster an environment that promotes fair competition for the betterment of the game.

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