Silva loses at CAS in bid to force US to end closed league MLS structure

February 7 – US club owner and former sports media agency entrepreneur Riccardo Silva has lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to force US Soccer to adopt promotion and relegation in their top tier leagues.

Silva, owner of Miami FC and a former stakeholder in the now defunct NASL league that saw its tier 2 status stripped from it before eventually shuttering its doors, has fought a long battle over a FIFA ruling in favour of US Soccer. The dispute centred on FIFA’s rule 9 which states  that “a club’s entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit.”

CAS reasoned that FIFA’s rules only apply to competitions that already existed as a pyramid structure. It said that “while the wording of Article 9 could be understood as rendering that provision to be universally applicable, FIFA didn’t intend for the rule to apply to U.S. Soccer.”

The ruling is a monumental setback for those in favour of a more organic structure of the American football pyramid that enables teams to move between tiers via promotion and relegation rather than what they have in their wallet. Major League Soccer is a closed league where franchises are awarded by invitation from the expansion committee (after a vote) and come at entrance fees now reaching $300 million. The buy-in model does give the security to new entrants that they won’t be relegated. This season David Beckham’s Miami FC and Nashville SC will debut in the MLS.

CAS also reiterated that FIFA as a world federation has board competence in applying their rules. CAS said: “It is consistent CAS jurisprudence that Swiss associations have autonomy in managing their own affairs…”

Silva had campaigned for 2.5 years to overturn the US Soccer Federation and MLS’s block of promotion and relegation.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1585644503labto1585644503ofdlr1585644503owedi1585644503sni@o1585644503fni1585644503