Biden administration backs Relevent in anti-trust case against FIFA and USSF

March 22 – The Biden administration has dealt a potential blow to FIFA by siding with Relevent Sports Group’s ambition to stage LaLiga games in the US.

In a non-binding letter sent to the US Supreme Court, the government has asked the court to rule in favour of a lawsuit against both FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) over alleged monopoly and unfair competition.

The dispute between Relevent and US Soccer arose after Relevent, via their 15-year agreement with LaLiga signed in 2018, proposed staging a regular season match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami.

US Soccer with the backing of FIFA and a global outcry from football stakeholders, refused to sanction the match, FIFA arguing its ruling council adopted a policy that “emphasised the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association.”

Barcelona then withdrew its commitment to play in Florida and in 2019 Relevent filed suit claiming that the USSF illegally conspired with FIFA to prevent foreign clubs and leagues from holding competitive matches in the US.

Although a federal court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2021, later that decision was overturned on appeal and US authorities have now urged the Supreme Court to allow the appeal decision to stand.

In a 23-page brief filed Thursday by Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, the government said the USSF “did not act independently.”

“Rather, it participated in a membership association that adopted a policy binding the association’s members, and it invoked that policy as its stated rationale for denying approval of the proposed matches.”

The government added the USSF “was not a randomly selected FIFA member, nor was it a passive or unknowing bystander to the adoption and enforcement of the 2018 policy.”

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