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US Soccer’s Monopoly Challenged: Supreme Court Agrees

 |  April 22, 2024

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, effectively allowing a lawsuit to proceed that challenges the organizations’ control over professional soccer matches in the United States. The lawsuit, initiated by Relevent Sports Group, a soccer promotion company owned by billionaire Stephen Ross, accuses the soccer governing bodies of violating antitrust laws by blocking foreign teams from playing official matches on U.S. soil.

Relevent Sports Group, known for organizing the International Champions Cup, a series of preseason matches featuring top European clubs, has been at the forefront of efforts to host official league games from other countries in the U.S, per Bloomberg. However, their ambitions have been thwarted by FIFA’s policy, which requires the national soccer body’s approval for any official matches played within its territory. The U.S. Soccer Federation, following FIFA’s guidelines, has not sanctioned official foreign league games in the United States, a stance that Relevent argues is monopolistic and harms competition.

Read more: Biden Administration Supports Antitrust Suit Against FIFA

The antitrust lawsuit, which was initially dismissed by a lower court, gained momentum after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case, suggesting that Relevent’s allegations of anticompetitive behavior were plausible. According to Bloomberg, the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene means the case will now return to federal court for further proceedings.

“This decision is a significant milestone for soccer fans and the sport in the United States,” said a spokesperson for Relevent Sports Group. “We believe that allowing teams from the world’s leading leagues to compete officially on U.S. soil will not only benefit fans but also foster a more competitive and diverse soccer landscape in America.”

FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation have yet to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the case poses a potential challenge to the traditional structure of international soccer, where national federations and FIFA tightly control the organization of matches and competitions.

Source: Bloomberg