April 24 – Relevent Sports, the company behind the ultimately doomed ground-breaking plan to take a La Liga fixture to the United States, has issued a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation for refusing to sanction a similar game from Ecuador’s league from taking place in Florida.
Last December, the idea of Barcelona meeting Girona in Miami was abandoned after Barca pulled out of the Catalan derby due to a “lack of consensus”.
The Spanish league had signed a 15-year, €200 million agreement with Relevent the previous August to play one regular season Spanish league game per season in the US starting with Girona’s ‘home’ game with Barca which had been earmarked for January 26.
Now the company, which promotes international fixtures, has sued the USSF, asking the courts to order the governing body to allow Ecuador’s Barcelona and Guayaquil clubs to play on May 5 at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.
Relevent claims the USSF illegally refused to approve its application to have the game played, quoting USSF policy as stating the governing body’s secretary general “shall grant such sanction unless it is decided by clear and convincing evidence that holding or sponsoring the international soccer competition would be detrimental to the best interest of the sport.”
The lawsuit alleges that the USSF’s decision to deny permission for the match violated its stated purpose “to promote, govern, coordinate, and administer the growth and development of soccer in all its recognised forms in the United States for all persons of all ages and abilities, including national teams and international games and tournaments” and that the USSF is required to sanction a match unless “the Federation decides by clear and convincing evidence that staging the match would be detrimental to the sport of soccer.”
In response, according to the Associated Press, USSF chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke cited FIFA objections to the principle of matches being played overseas.
FIFA, she said, “remains opposed to playing official league matches outside the territory of the member association(s) to which the relevant league belongs.”
The USSF also reportedly claims that Relevent sued even before the USSF denied the application.
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