Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NASL files anti-trust suit in Federal Court

The NASL's press release reads:

The North American Soccer League (NASL) announced Tuesday that it has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in Brooklyn federal court. The NASL is a men’s professional soccer league that has operated since 2010.
The NASL’s complaint alleges that the USSF has violated federal antitrust laws through its anticompetitive “Division” structure that divides men’s professional soccer for U.S.-based leagues based on arbitrary criteria that the USSF has manipulated to favor Major League Soccer (MLS), which is the commercial business partner of the USSF.  Its business arrangements include multi-million dollar media and marketing contracts with Soccer United Marketing (SUM), MLS’s marketing arm that also jointly sells and markets MLS rights combined with rights to U.S. national soccer teams operated by the USSF. 

The complaint alleges that the USSF has selectively applied and waived its divisional criteria to suppress competition from the NASL, both against MLS and against United Soccer League (USL).  For example, under the USSF’s divisional criteria, there are European clubs that have successfully operated for decades that would be considered ineligible for “Division I” or even “Division II” status due to arbitrary requirements like stadium capacity and market size. 

The complaint alleges that the USSF sought to limit competition from the NASL to MLS and USL, and now seeks to destroy the NASL by arbitrarily revoking the NASL’s “Division II” status for the upcoming 2018 season. The complaint only seeks injunctive relief against the USSF’s conduct regarding its divisional designations.

Rocco B. Commisso, Chairman of the NASL’s Board of Governors and the principal owner of the New York Cosmos, which plays its home games in Brooklyn, stated:  “The USSF left the NASL no choice except to file this lawsuit. The NASL has taken this step to protect not just the league, but also the game, fans, and everyone with a stake in the future success of professional soccer leagues based in this country.”


Some questions that USSF Presidential candidates should ask Sunil Gulati

Recently we have seen public announcement by Paul LaPointe and Steven Gans as candidates for President of USSF against the incumbent Sunil Gulati. Sunil Gulati has not been a huge fan of talking to the media over the course of the last few years.

With the help of THIS NY DAILY NEWS article we've developed a few questions that we feel that these candidates and any who hopefully join in (We are talking to you John Motta and Jerome De Bontin) should be directly asking Mr. Gulati to answer. 

-- What was your relationship with Chuck Blazer? How long did you know Mr. Blazer?

-- As president of the United States Soccer Federation, did you review and sign off on contracts between USSF and CONCACAF that were negotiated by Blazer? Were you aware of commissions paid directly or indirectly to Blazer?

-- Between the bribery scandal that led to Blazer's departure from international soccer circles in 2013 and the Justice Department's unsealing of its indictment in 2015, what did you as a FIFA and CONCACAF executive do to uncover fraud in either organization?

-- As a senior lecturer in economics at Columbia with experience working for the World Bank, how did you not notice the blatant irregularities in CONCACAF's financial reports while you were serving on the organization's executive committee?

-- Have you been questioned by the FBI, Justice Department prosecutors or other U.S. government investigators? Did you appear before or submit documents to the grand jury that handed up the FIFA indictments? Have you spoken to the Swiss authorities who are leading the FIFA investigation in their country? Is it true that you were wiretapped by the FBI during their investigation of Chuck Blazer?

-- Did you ever share office space at the Trump Tower, which was home to CONCACAF, with Chuck Blazer? Were you ever aware of allegations that Blazer used CONCACAF funds to fuel his high-flying lifestyle, including a $6,000-per-month Trump Tower apartment for his cats?

-- Why did you decline to attend the U.S. Senate committee hearing on the Justice Department's FIFA investigation on July 15? USSF chief executive officer Dan Flynn, who appeared on behalf of USSF at the hearing, claimed American soccer officials did not have any leverage to push for reform at FIFA. Do you agree with his assessment?

-- Why does USSF deal with SUM as a broker for its media rights when even MLS (the parent company of SUM) feels that dealing directly with its broadcast partners is required to have a successful partnership?

-- Is it concerning to USSF that MLS favors some teams over others when it comes to player allocation and that a sitting USSF Board Member would lie about it?

-- What are your feelings on the American Soccer United "Call For Change" reform outline?

We would love to hear what questions you want to have Sunil Gulati answer also! Let us know in the comments section below and on social media. Make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag.

Friday, September 1, 2017

30 Supporter Group coalition release a letter of support for CAS case

August 14th 2017 The Supporter Groups for Promotion and Relegation coalition released a letter of support for Miami FC and Stockade FC  in regards to their complaint filed with CAS last month.

30 supporter groups have currently signed on. This list of signatures includes several MLS SG along with SG from NASL, USL, NPSL and PDL clubs.

This coalition of supporter groups represents thousands of the most passionate fans in this country and yet another display of the rapid growth of the #ProRelForUSA movement.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Great 343 Podcast featuring Jerome De Bontin

John Pranjic has one of my favorite podcasts out right now. The 343 Podcast always features high quality guests and wonderful questions of the sort most podcasters don't ask.

This one features one of the most interesting men in US soccer at this moment, Jerome De Bontin.

I would love all of you to make sure you check this interview out.


Yes, I am in favor of Mr. De Bontin as the next USSF President. #JdBforUSSF

It is your choice.

Social movements have multiple stages... they emerge, they coalesce, they bureaucratize, and then win or lose, they run their course and end.

The #ProRelForUSA movement has grown extensively over the last few years no matter what a small group of very vocal online detractors say. The movement has moved from a few lone bold souls on Twitter not letting the issue die a silent death, to this point where owners of lower division clubs are now taking cases to CAS to try to achieve its implementation.

Without guys like Ted Westervelt would we be where we are today in this movement? I seriously doubt it. His single minded determination helped bring dozens, if not hundreds of vocal advocates on board through his direct social media actions. Without his tweet to me that said "hoping it happens isn't going to make it happen" I wouldn't have been given the spark to be the American soccer reform activist I am today.

Initially during the emergence of the promotion and relegation movement, creating conversation was more important than anything else. The topic of #ProRelForUSA was a minuscule piece of the overall conversation about American soccer. Really, the totality of the American soccer conversation wasn't even that large.

The plan for creating passionate discussion around the subject worked. It worked well. Today #ProRelForUSA and #OpenSoccer are likely the 3rd most hotly debated topic in all of American soccer right behind the #USMNT and #USWNT. Nothing stirs up consistent passionate debate like these three topics. No league. No team. No player. No coach.

One major issue with Ted and others who have continued to use his tactics on social media during this initial growth stage, is that they have also created countless enemies to the movement.

Today, is this in your face, bold, confrontational, and oftentimes abusive style still the best plan?

In mine and many others opinion it is not.

Where we are on this spectrum of social movement stages can be debated right now, but I think it is safe to say we are past the emergence stage.

These initially most important allies of the movement have now become a part of what is holding it back. The constant attacks on potential allies do nothing to move the conversation forward. The branding of potential allies as enemies does nothing but embolden their resolve to not join in the conversation.

At this point can we still call this very vocal, passionate, and outspoken subset of confrontational advocates allies?

Yes just to clarify Ted, Ben, HowsYourTouch and others out there who I didn't name but think I may be talking about them. I am talking to you.

As this movement progresses and grows. The strategy must change. If you do not grow and change with it... you are no longer allies.You are a hindrance to it.

What does this movement gain by you being an asshole/bully on Twitter?

It gains nothing.

If you want to argue with Dan Loney and the rest of the status quo'ists who are out there all day every day. Have at it.

Please just stop trying to shame, cajole, or bully potential (and in many cases, actual) allies who don't speak up often enough for you, in the manner you want, and when you want in to doing this movement your way.

Trust the facts to persuade them to speak up, when they want to speak up, how they want to speak up, and as often as they want to speak up.

Coalitions are forming. Advocacy groups are starting. Suits are being filed.

The last thing this movement needs is y'all convincing MORE allies to not speak up because you're assholes to them and others on Twitter and they don't want to be associated with you.

No one person is more important than this movement. It is your choice. 

Do you still want to be an ally or not?

Friday, August 25, 2017

New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch comes out in favor of #ProRelForUSA

New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch comes out in favor of #ProRelForUSA in an ESPNFC Boot Room interview with Taylor Twellman.

The tides are changing.

Full Deloitte Report on #ProRelForUSA

The full 2016 Deloitte Report on Promotion and Relegation in North American soccer has been released. It is a 42 page long document that makes quite a few good points. Take a few minutes and give it a read.



Is MLS a Ponzi Scheme?

Several articles have hit the internet recently asking some very serious questions about the MLS business model.

Like, is MLS a Ponzi scheme?


That business model and this financial trajectory suggests that MLS’s sea of red ink is either a loss leader or a Ponzi scheme, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two until it’s too late. Several sports economists, though, aren’t optimistic


But before Cincinnati—or Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Phoenix, or any of the other cities bidding to join MLS—agrees to put-up public financing for a new stadium, officials there might want to take a good, hard look at the financial health of the league they are attempting to join. Because, right now, MLS resembles something a little like a Ponzi scheme

It appears politicians are doing just that very thing...

Newspaper sports writers nationwide are also starting to ask these questions in potential MLS markets... 


Major League Soccer is a lot like The Royal Nonesuch.

You may hate soccer, but this topic is important. If the city lands one of Major League Soccer’s four expansion teams, it could cost $240 million and taxpayers will be on the hook for about a third of that. And there’s no promise the league will succeed.
That wouldn’t be a reflection on San Antonio, which has proven itself to be a great soccer city, but rather on the voodoo economics of MLS.

Now economist Stephen Szymanski is hitting the airwaves of NPR asking tough questions about the MLS business model.

“That’s a fairly serious accusation since Ponzi schemes are illegal,” Szymanski said. “But what it is hard to understand is how Major League Soccer can, at the same time, say that they are losing money, and then say that they can sell franchises for $150 million each. It seems like some kind of pyramid scheme and it’s really hard to see how this is ultimately going to make money for the owners.”


Monday, August 7, 2017

Why do people argue against #ProRelForUSA?

The internet is an awesome tool. The ability to find in depth information about any and every topic, keep up with family, watch funny cat videos... and argue about #ProRelForUSA.

Every time a positive article about opening the pyramid comes out a small group of very vocal anti-reform activists start their "it will never happen", "the owners will never agree to it", and the other standard status quo supporting Tweets and comment section activities.

I just want to know why?

We all know the system is broken. It is not delivering the results we want economically, developmentally, or socially. What makes you want to defend this system?

We know soccer is not going to go away if the system changes. Period.

People are still going to go to games.

Leagues are still going to exist.

Teams are still going to populate those leagues.

Soccer is still going to be on TV.

Kids are still going to be able to play on Saturday mornings.

Is fear really driving this side of the conversation? They aren't arguing for their version of change. They aren't arguing for a different set of big and bold reforms. They are arguing for a continuation of what we have now. Now I have read, just like I'm sure you have, all the nefarious "paid shill" comments that are often thrown about concerning media members who are supposedly on the take from MLS/SUM. I just don't believe that. At some point somebody would stop getting paid and they would write an expose about it. I feel that after 20+ years of buying off the media it would have happened by now. Without getting paid I just struggle to find any reason why regular people (not MLS owners) are so invested in defending the status quo other than fear of the unknown and what will happen after the change to an open pyramid.

From talking to hundreds of #ProRelForUSA activists over the last few years I think it is safe to say hope and positivity are driving the other side of the conversation. The hope that the United States can become a world soccer power and the positivity of thought needed to look for and support big and bold solutions, even ones that may be scary.

I for one am glad people like Ricardo Silva and Dennis Crowley are stepping up and attempting to make these big and bold reforms to the system. Am I worried that the transition may be bumpy? Sure... who wouldn't be? But what I am, is confident. Confident that in the long run this is what is necessary. That in the long run, this is going to lead our nation to being one of the best nations in the world at soccer with a vibrant league system existing in every community in the country. You just have to open your mind up to the possibilities out there... the big and bold ideas of radical change.

One side driven by the fear of change.

One side driven by a hope for a better future for this game we all love.

Continue to speak up for #ProRelForUSA. 88% of us want to see it. Don't let the 12% shout you down because they are scared of change.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Promotion Relegation and the Stadium Scam - Jake Steinberg Guest Post

(Note: Today's guest author Jake Steinberg wrote a great piece featured by the Economist make sure you READ IT HERE)

Promotion Relegation and the Stadium Scam             

Advocates for promotion and relegation in the United States spend a lot of time debunking speculative defenses of the existing order. One of the more common tropes is MLS simply won’t allow it to happen. I don’t have a ton of patience for that argument—for one thing, it’s self-fulfilling and thus uninteresting—but at least one part of it needs to be taken seriously. Because while pro/rel advocates can point to the fact that it’s not entirely MLS’s decision, it is obvious that pro/rel would be easier to achieve if MLS agreed to it.

    Others have pointed out reasons why MLS is unlikely to be a full-throated pro/rel backer but the point of this post is not to wade into the general morass of that question or to examine the ability or general willingness of monopolistic entities to give up control, but instead to highlight a particular reason why MLS fights against pro/rel, which also happens to be a very good argument in favor of an open system. MLS wants to expand its access to the lucrative stadium scam that the four major sports (1), particularly the NFL and MLB, have been running for years, and it can only do that if it remains a closed league. 

Everyone knows that stadiums (2) are a bad deal for municipalities. Teams usually trot out the same shill to defend their deals, but virtually every serious source that has addressed the topic has found that these deals are bad for cities. The owners, like all snake-oil salesmen, push grandiose promises about the benefits of a new stadium, and the motivated thinkers in the political class lap them up like homeopathic remedies, despite all available evidence. Even leaving aside the impropriety of handing massive tax breaks and subsidies to some of the richest people and entities in the world, heavily subsidized sports arenas are just, on balance, not good deals for their locations. 

It’s clear why a league and its owners want tax breaks and subsidies and it’s not a huge mystery why politicians keep giving them out: they want to keep their teams or attract teams from other cities. (3) Knowing this, teams demand increasingly lavish benefits from cities and threaten to pull up stakes and move somewhere else if they don’t get their way. This has most recently affected fans of the Oakland (soon-to-be Las Vegas) Raiders, (4) but it’s also been pulled by the St. Louis (formerly and currently Los Angeles) Rams, (5) Texas Rangers, and Milwaukee Bucks. (6)

Here’s the catch: this extortionist swindle only works if there is a credible threat to leave, and there is only a credible threat to leave when you artificially constrain the number of teams that have access to the top division. As long as cities are permanently frozen out of the top division absent expansion or taking a team from elsewhere, some of those cities will be willing to heavily subsidize the construction of stadiums. 

An open system changes this dynamic. If you have an open system, teams will invest in accordance with what their market can bear. (7) If supporters have a hope that their club can one day enter the top division, those fans aren’t likely to trade in their existing loyalties for a shiny new MLS club. (8) In other words, they won’t need to approve massive expenditures to lure a team from elsewhere if they can help build up an existing team in their own market, which would eliminate the threat to move. And taking away the threat to move means that those municipalities have a much better negotiating position against their existing teams. Simply, without the threat to move, teams would not be able to shake down cities for lucrative public expenditures. 

    The MLS apologists will say that this impedes the growth of the game, because it hinders investment in top-flight facilities. That is only true if you think that the burden of creating those facilities should be with the public fisc, rather than the owners and governing structures of US Soccer. Even to the extent that owners would pass along costs to supporters, it is far more equitable for those of us who either like soccer or who stand to profit from it to bear the majority of those costs. Moreover, shifting the burden of these costs onto owners in an open system would match stadium investment to a club’s ambition. 

    MLS  has already taken advantage of public financing for stadiums, like the white elephant of Bridgeview, Illinois, where the Chicago Fire play. The league wants more of this money. Don Garber has explicitly said as much, defending the closed league by asking: “What do you tell a municipality who invests in a public stadium and expects to have the revenue streams that come from being in the First Division?” That question is dishonest in two ways. First, it assumes that the municipality will see revenues from the stadium, which is demonstrably false, as stadiums tend to cost cities money and generate small or no extrinsic economic advantages, while owners capture whatever benefits there are. Second, it is question-begging, insofar as it presumes that leagues should be deciding which cities are worthy of a top-division club, rather than having the market determine what an appropriate level of investment would be for a given city. 

Garber’s argument makes another dubious assumption: that there will be the same level of interest in the lower divisions in an open system as there is now. It’s fair to point out that average division 2 attendance (especially when we leave out the occasional outliers on the high side, like FC Cincinnati, and the low end, like the MLS2 squads) wouldn’t justify stadium construction on the scale that a top-division league deserves. But is there anyone who seriously doubts that interest in the second division would be higher if there were promotion? 

    Franchises threatening to leave their homes unless the taxpayers buy them a shiny new stadium has become a familiar story. It’s also easy to understand why politicians and voters still fall for the threat; no one wants to lose their access to the highest level of play in the country. An open system would eliminate this threat and the lucrative subsidies teams can extract with it,  which is why MLS will continue to fight for its closed system.

-Jake Steinberg is the chairperson of San Francisco City FC's members' board. His work on soccer has also appeared on The Economist's Game Theory blog. He sporadically tweets, mostly about SF City but occasionally about basketball, law, and his dog under the handle @SFJoachim

1. Culturally, I think you could probably argue that soccer is already a bigger deal than hockey in much of the country. Regardless, when people use the phrase “big four” in reference to sports in the US, they typically exclude MLS. 

2. Yes, I know the plural of “stadium” should be “stadia.” Stop being so pretentious. 

3. You could make this story more complicated and talk about politicians reflecting constituent demand, wanting legacy projects, and simple corruption, but for our purposes, these all amount to the same thing, wanting their team to stay put or wanting to attract a team from another city. 

4. Ironically, Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption has helped keep the A’s in Oakland

5. The Rams are a particularly egregious example, because they pulled this scam twice, once convincing St. Louis to build them a stadium, and then, while the citizens of St. Louis still owed millions on the stadium, moved back to Los Angeles when St. Louis refused to build them a new one. The Rams defended the move by claiming the team didn’t take public money in LA, conveniently omitting the millions in tax breaks they got. The Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, became the majority owner of Arsenal sometime after the club built Emirates Stadium with no public money. He also owns the Colorado Rapids and if you don’t think he intends to pull this again, then I have a soccer-specific stadium to sell you. 

6. These teams all made explicit threats to leave, but even teams that haven’t done that have the implicit threat that they will relocate. 

7. Public financing of stadiums occasionally happens in open systems, but it’s less frequent, and usually requires some other catalyst, like an Olympics hosting bid. Even then it can be controversial. West Ham’s stadium deal, which was a much better deal (at least on paper) for taxpayers than the typical American one, still led to a government inquiry and public outrage.

8. I don’t know that it is fair to blame fans, particularly less obsessive ones, for preferring the highest level of play available to them, even if I also think that pro/rel would raise that level of play across the country. That said, I hope the people of Detroit ignore Dan Gilbert’s latest insult to decency and continue supporting Detroit City FC.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Let's speculate about a #ProRelForUSA timeline

Since yesterdays $4B media rights offer from MP and Silva discussions about opening the American pyramid have been happening like never before. As can be expected with such a hot topic, sources are starting to leak more information about the deal.

As Bob Williams explains in this series of tweets...

He goes on to explain that of the $4B over 10 years he is being told that $80m per year could make its way to lower division teams and the inclusion of solidarity and parachute payments would be included in this new way to structure the American pyramid. 
His sources are also saying that the offer was most assuredly serious and that this offer is just the beginning of a path to an open pyramid not the final offer. One of the most intriguing pieces of these leaks to Mr. Williams is that teams from up and down the current pyramid are already showing interest in finding out more.

This was obviously a play by Ricardo Silva to make the best case scenario happen. Unite the entire pyramid under one umbrella, MLS included. This would also be the end of Co-D2 and the future Co-D3 sanctioned leagues during this creation of one unified pyramid. This bid was dismissed out of hand by MLS

So what possibly is next? 

Before we get to that, let's think back to everything that has already happened. 

1. NPSL begins public discussions of creating a full season league. 
5. NISA league is created. 
7. MP and Silva make $4B bid for media rights to a fully restructured American pyramid. 

Thats where we are today. So now lets do the fun part and speculate about the future for a minute... 

8. NISA releases teams for it's inaugural season.
9. USASA releases D4/5/6 standards and multiple state associations create D5/6 state leagues. 
10. USSF funded DoublePASS development system audit is released that supports claims that an Open Pyramid will help immensely with player development long term. This would be another huge public relations win for the open pyramid movement.
11. Alternate D1/2/3/4/5/6 pyramid is officially mentioned by stakeholders.
12. NASL, NISA, USASA, and USSF begin official work and hammer out the details for a new D6 > D1 open pyramid structure. 
13. A plethora of USL and PDL club owners express interest in participating in new structure. 
14. MP and Silva offers media rights deal to new Alternate Open US Pyramid and US Open Cup. 
15. Media rights offer is extended to USSF to include USMNT, USWNT and USYNT media rights when their current deal with SUM expires as well. 

An infusion of cash (even one not as large as the $4B offered to a pyramid that includes MLS) like what is possible in this scenario radically changes soccer in this country.

A question that needs answered right now is have we gotten through these first 7 steps randomly or is there discussions by many of the stakeholders trying to create this alternate pyramid?

I don't know for sure... but it sure seems that with some collaboration these next 8 can happen and happen much more quickly than many assume.

I would love to hear your opinion on this speculation in the comments or on social media. Make sure you continue to tag all of your open pyramid conversations with the #ProRelForUSA hashtag on all your social media platforms (yesterday was a HUGE day on Twitter for its use by the way!!!).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Interesting MLS quote about the $4B media rights #ProRelForUSA offer

Multiple reports have circulated today stating that MLS has turned down a $4B media rights offer from Ricardo Silva's international media company MP & Silva that included a stipulation that #ProRelForUSA was started in the United States.


READ HERE - Sports Business Daily



MLS Executive VP of Communications is quoted by Jeff Carlisle of ESPN as saying:

This quote says something very intriguing to me. MLS deals directly with its broadcast partners because it, for various reasons, is "required for a successful partnership".

Why does USSF not directly deal with its broadcast partners but use the MLS subsidiary company Soccer United Marketing (SUM) to negotiate its broadcast deals? We've asked questions before about USSF offering a subsidy to MLS that it does not to other leagues in the US pyramid. Today we have MLS coming out and stating that not negotiating directly with your broadcast partners is just plain old bad business.

Maybe it is time for our American soccer media to really start to ask the tough questions about this USSF/MLS/SUM relationship.

Even MLS is now on record saying that they think its crazy to use an intermediary to negotiate a media deal.

Let us know in the comment section or on social media what you think about this media rights deal offer and MLS's response to it. Make sure you tag all of your conversations with the #ProRelForUSA hashtag!

Friday, July 21, 2017

NPSL playoff fan engagement poll

Yesterday our friends at Supporter Groups for Promotion and Relegation ran a poll asking about fan engagement concerning the NPSL playoffs and promotion to NISA.

Very simply.

Would you pay more attention to NSPL playoff matches if NISA promotion was on the line?

The results (while unscientific) show that many people would pay even more attention to the matches during the playoffs if more than a trophy was on the line. This results goes hand in hand with what many people have speculated about fan involvement in lower division soccer and #ProRelForUSA.

If the clubs are playing to move up the pyramid... a vast majority of fans will care more and pay more attention to these games "that matter" not just the fans of the specific club playing for the trophy.

Polling data like this suggests that it is in the best interests of lower division club owners to put their league loyalty aside and create a unified pyramid of regional leagues featuring #ProRelForUSA. The more engaged fans of lower division soccer are... the better off everybody in lower division soccer will be. As the saying goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats".

Would love to hear your opinion in the comments or on social media. Make sure you tag the conversation with the #ProRelForUSA hashtag!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What anti-#ProRelForUSA topic has not been debunked?

In the over 100 posts that I've been writing this blog I've touched on quite a few topics...

We've seen some of them be shared enough that they've nearly stopped several items from being used as arguments against the opening of the pyramid. We've seen huge growth of those advocating for an opening of the pyramid. We've even had the pleasure of having a sitting USSF Board member comment on one of our articles on Facebook and in a podcast interview.

Now I need your help though. NO... this is not a post begging for money. I just need your help in continuing to keep writing about the topics that most often pop up.

During your discussions online and in person what topic do you hear the most often that you have not seen addressed by either this blog or by another site?

Hit the comments up and let me know what you would like to see written about!

Continue to use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag on all your social media platforms. Join one of the several Facebook Promotion and Relegation groups out there and follow some of our favorite Twitter people.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who is challenging those in power?

Jorge Ramos recently did a TED Talk titled "Why Journalists Have An Obligation To Challenge Power". One of the first statements he made struck a chord with me.

I was born in Mexico, but I've spent more than half my life reporting in the United States, a country which was itself created by immigrants. As a reporter and as a foreigner, I've learned that neutrality, silence and fear aren't the best options — not in journalism, nor in life. Neutrality is often an excuse that we journalists use to hide from our true responsibility. What is that responsibility? It is to question and to challenge those in positions of power. That's what journalism is for.

Last night the USMNT squeaked by with a win over Martinique in Gold Cup group stage play. The same Martinique that features a very small 4 tier 57 team pyramid with even its top division being amateur/semi-pro. The same Martinique NT that only has 4 players who do not play in that same top division league as this Bleacher Report Info-graphic points out.

Jordy Delem who has a total of 7 starts in MLS after playing only 16 games in USL last season. Antoine Jean-Bapitste who plays for Villefranche in the 4th Tier of the French pyramid. Anthony Angely who plays for Poitiers in the 2nd Division in France, and Steven Langil who played 6 games last season for Polish 1st Division power Legia Warsaw before being sent back out on loan to his previous club Waasland-Beveren of the Belgian 1st Division.

I saw plenty of hand wringing and worry coming from fans on social media over the way the national team played versus obviously inferior competition regardless of if it was the 'A', 'B', or 'C' team Bruce Arena ran out there to play.

But I also saw Tweets like this from media members.

I also saw a halftime analysis that claims that this "Pressure" was causing problems for the back line of the #USMNT. No questioning of the Bruce Arena installed tactical play of the entire team when under this light pressure.

USMNT Head Coach Bruce Arena was able to make this statement at a Gold Cup press conference...

He was not immediately inundated with follow up questions about players such as Miguel Ibarra who was called up from NASL and performed admirably in his action and last nights savior Jordan Morris who was called up directly from college play at Stanford University. With the tiers of American soccer not being merit based... how can any of us and him especially... act as if lower tier teams can not hold top level players? Why was he not pressured on this topic? Why was he not asked if the lower tiers of US soccer are even being scouted?

Let's add this "MLS Only" way of Bruce Arena thinking to this quote from  Johan Cruyffs' book "My Turn"...

At some point Jurgen Klinsmann was pressured by those in power at USSF to included players from as many franchises in MLS as possible. Klinsmann imploring the best and brightest of young American soccer players to play in top leagues in Europe elicited the ire of MLS Commissioner and USSF Board member Don Garber.

Is Bruce Arena under the same pressure to pick MLS players?

Has anyone asked?

Why has only Jurgen Klinsmann, in the recent history of high level soccer people in this country, put under immense pressure by the media? Was it because he didn't play along with MLS wishes? Was it because he put USSF under pressure with his statements about reforming the entire pyramid in the US? For his wishes to fix the development system? To end Pay to Play?

Every day we can find a new topic to question those in power over American soccer with. When the media fails to ask these deeper more meaningful questions that absolutely need asked, they become willing accomplices to whatever plan those in power have put in place.

Currently it seems that nowhere in the entire ecosystem of soccer in the United States is there being pressure applied to the leaders of the game.

The question I have today is...

Does American soccer media have a single writer, TV pundit, or even big time blogger who consistently challenges the power structure of American soccer?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If not now, when?

We all know American soccer needs to change. It seems that almost weekly the spotlight is being shown on a "new" problem (that has existed for years) somewhere in the American soccer structure/culture.

My questions is ... Why are so many people involved in American soccer scared of the deep and radical systemic change that is needed to address these issues?

Why do they keep pushing for small incremental change?

We all know that incremental change results in incremental results... Do we really want to wait "generations before we are literally playing at the level of the Premier League or Bundaliga"?

If you are fine with that... keep advocating for incremental change. For the status quo.

Unfortunately, for those of us who would like to see positive movement relatively quickly for American soccer, too many involved in the leadership of the sport, the media, and a multitude of very vocal (on social media) fans incorrectly believe that small incremental change will deliver radically different results.

Only sweeping reforms are going to deliver the kind of radically different results that all of us want to see in our lifetime.

Incremental change will never do this.

So why do these leaders, media members, and fans keep fighting against this sweeping reform?


The one thing we can stop being scared of ... that soccer as a "major" sport in the United States will go away. It is here to stay. Soccer is going to remain on TV. It is going to remain being played by millions of children and adults every week. It will remain a pro sport. It will remain in your city and town. It is not going away. We will not return to the "Dark Ages" so many are scared of.

If we change the way soccer is governed in this country. Soccer is not going away.

If we have an open and inclusive pyramid put in place. Soccer is not going away.

If clubs are paid Training Compensation and Solidarity Payments. Soccer is not going away.

If the youth soccer "travel and tournament" structure is affected by the addition of 100's of Adult clubs having academies that are free or very low cost. Soccer is not going away. 

If merit starts to decide which players play in the best academies not parental wallet size. Soccer is not going away.

If the entirety of the adult amateur soccer system in the country is restructured and able to move up and down on sporting merit and is connected to the pro game. Soccer is not going away.

If billionaire owners are no longer allowed to buy new spots in the 1st Division of the sport for $150M dollars. Soccer is not going away.

We can keep going with this list of things that if they are addressed in sweeping reform all at once... none of it will kill soccer.

Right now soccer is growing at every level even while being structurally choked off all the way from the top down. What will happen to the sport when proper leadership makes the changes that we all know are needed?

The sleeping giant that is US Soccer will awaken.

Keep speaking up. Use #ProRelForUSA on all of your social media platforms when talking about any of these issues and keep the pressure on those who can make the change.