The U.S. Supreme Court has sought the Biden administration’s input on whether it should entertain the U.S. Soccer Federation’s plea to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of colluding with FIFA to prohibit foreign teams from playing official matches in the United States. The case, brought by New York-based Relevent Sports in 2019, alleges that the ban violates American antitrust laws.
Relevent Sports’ lawsuit targets both U.S. Soccer and FIFA, asserting that the ban infringes on antitrust regulations, and it aims to halt the implementation of such a prohibition. While U.S. Soccer is a member of FIFA, it contends that it played no role in formulating FIFA’s 2018 policy that prevents foreign clubs from conducting competitive matches outside their home countries, per Reuters.
The dispute reached the Supreme Court after a federal judge dismissed Relevent’s suit in 2021. However, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the case in March of this year. The appellate court ruled that U.S. Soccer could be held accountable if FIFA’s rule is found to violate antitrust laws, emphasizing that U.S. Soccer, as a FIFA member, agreed to abide by the international body’s rules.
According to Reuters, the outcome of this legal battle has potential ramifications for the landscape of international soccer in the United States. Currently, the U.S. hosts “friendly” matches involving foreign professional teams, but a favorable ruling for Relevent Sports could pave the way for hosting more significant matches, involving prominent professional clubs and players from around the world.
The Supreme Court’s consideration of U.S. Soccer’s appeal reflects the ongoing challenge in U.S. courts to determine how antitrust laws apply to members of organizations or associations based on shared rules and memberships.