January 22 – With US Soccer president Sunil Gulati and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani about to begin their charm offensive in Europe for the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup, Gulati has been hit with new problems.
Allegations have been made that he intervened at FIFA to have at least one claim for club training compensation postponed by FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber.
The allegations made by lawyer Cory Roth is that this is both a criminal anti-trust issue as well as improper leverage of his position on FIFA’s Council. Roth, a specialist criminal litigation lawyer, has filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice asking them to investigate the matter.
Roth’s complaint focuses on Oregon-based youth club Westside Timbers (linked to MLS side Portland Timbers), who are chasing more than $320,000 in training compensation from FC Utrecht related to Rubio Rubin, who signed his first professional contract with the Dutch club. The Rubin case was filed at FIFA’s DRC in August 2016.
Roth said: “We know that Gulati told Ongaro (Omar Ongaro, the head of FIFA’s Player Status and Governance Department) to take one case off the docket the day before the case was to be heard. This interference was not only unethical, considering Gulati knew this youth club was represented by legal counsel, but also we believe illegal under the antitrust laws of the United States of America.
“Gulati’s actions have denied justice for my client, the 10 or so other clubs with claims pending at the DRC, and many clubs across the country who may be waiting to see how this plays out before filing their own claims.”
The USSF is at a legal cross-roads on the issue of youth compensations having not implemented FIFA’s rules on compensation for the transfer of players because of fears of violating the same antitrust laws it is now accused of breaching by not acting.
The added complication of Gulati stepping in to influence the process is a different matter and comes at an embarrassing time as he and his colleagues seek to influence FIFA’s voters their way for the 2026 World Cup decision to be voted on this May at FIFA’s Congress.
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