The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and Major League Soccer (MLS) recently prevailed in an antitrust suit brought by former soccer promoter ChampionsWorld LLC in Illinois federal court.
ChampionsWorld had claimed that USSF perpetuated the idea that it was in charge of all professional soccer in the U.S. (including games played by foreign teams) in order to restrain competition against MLS, thereby driving ChampionsWorld out of business.
The federal judge ruled for the US soccer bodies by granting USSF’s petition to confirm an arbitration award which gives MLS and USSF the power to sanction and levy fees forUSgames involving teams affiliated with Federation International de Football Association (FIFA).
ChampionsWorld representative Carmelo Stillitano argued that the arbitration award should be denied because ChampionsWorld was unable to present its case in arbitration due to USSF’s withholding of critical evidence. The judge rejected this argument, stating that it did not appear that Stillitano was denied a fair hearing on the issues that the arbitration panel actually decided.
The arbitration award affirmed the decision that USSF has authority under FIFA’s regulations to require that any soccer match between foreign teams with the U.S.be sanctioned by USSF. It also gave the USSF the ability to levy sanctioning fees and require the posting of a bond in order to secure those fees.
The USSF charges 5.25 percent of the gross gate for games in theU.S. involving one international club and 9 percent for matches involving two international clubs. The USSF charges 11.25 percent of the first $200,000 and 15 percent of the remainder for games involving national teams. If the match is part of a doubleheader involving MLS teams, the fee is cut in half.
In January 2005, ChampionsWorld filed for bankruptcy, stating it had financial difficulties due in large part to the fees levied by USSF.
Judge rules for US Soccer in antitrust suit