Miami at the heart of Relevent Sports’ USSF lawsuit over league matches

Relevent Sports filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Monday. Photographic by Matthew Bunch.

Relevent Sports, LLC, an advertising and marketing firm responsible for bringing high-profile international and club friendlies to North America, has filed suit in New York state court alleging that the U.S. Soccer Federation is improperly prohibiting the organization from bring foreign league matches to the United States.

The lawsuit, which was first reported in the New York Times, is the culmination of months of frustration between Relevent and a number of national federations. Relevent, which is co-owned by Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium owner Stephen Ross, first attempted to bring a La Liga match between Barcelona and Girona back in January. That plan stalled until finally Barcelona withdrew from the LaLiga North America partnership, at least for this season.

The plan was opposed by the U.S. federation, but also the Spanish federation, FIFA and the Spanish players’ union.

It appears that, without fanfare, Relevent tried again, this time attempting to bring two Ecuadorean clubs (Barcelona S.C. and Guayaquil City) to Hard Rock on May 5. This time, the U.S. Federation more directly rejected the proposal.

According to the Relevent complaint, the federation’s refusal to sanction the game is in violation of Federation Bylaw 102, which states the federation’s purpose is, “to promote, govern, coordinate, and administer the growth and development of soccer in all its recognized forms in the United States for all persons of all ages and abilities, including national teams and international games and tournaments.”

USSF response

On Tuesday, the federation responded, claiming that sanctioning of the game would be in violation of FIFA’s guidelines. Therefore, allowing the game to be played would be detrimental to the game and in violation of Bylaw 102.

While the FIFA Council did make its opinion known on the Miami league game matter last year, that opinion has not yet officially been codified in FIFA’s Laws of the Game. The crux of Relevent’s argument is that the Council’s opinion should not be interpreted as official rule.

Copa connection

Interestingly, the court filing in New York Supreme Court (note: the state supreme court in New York is not the highest court, instead generally serving as a civil trial court) confirms reporting from last year that Relevent Sports made efforts to bring the aborted Copa Libertadores final to Miami, and lays the blame for the failure to land the game at the feet of the USSF president (and Miami resident) Carlos Cordiero.

“At the end of 2018, when fan violence prevented the finals of the Copa Libertadores from taking place in Argentina as scheduled, Relevent and Mr. Ross reached out to USSF and its President, Carlos Cordeiro, to offer to stage the final in Miami, Florida. USSF and Cordeiro effectively refused to engage.”

Legal limbo

This is the third Miami-adjacent lawsuit pending for the USSF. The now-defunct North American Soccer League has filed a lawsuit contending that it has violated anti-trust regulations, and a lawsuit spearheaded by local club The Miami FC to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is asking that promotion and relegation be introduced in the American club game.

The Miami FC finally defeats Miami United, open year with 2-0 win

The Miami FC forward Dario Suarez, left, hugs teammate Tomas Granitto after his "Olimpico" goal against Miami United FC on April 20, 2019. Photo via The Miami FC.

The Magic City Clasico entered its fourth act Saturday night on the campus of Barry University. In the previous three contests, Miami United excelled at frustrating The Miami FC. The rough tackles, the willingness to go to ground, and the physicality all carried over from 2018. There was absolutely zero love lost between the two sides. Unfortunately for United, the 2019 version of Miami FC responds to adversity far better.

Miami FC v Miami United: Previewing The Clasico

The Fourth Edition Of The Magic City Clasico Is Finally Here

Few would equate the dynamics of college football with soccer. Somehow, the Magic City Clasico and the NPSL on a shortened schedule shares the chaos, uncertainty, and euphoria of NCAA football. Every game is a must win and the lack of an official “pre-season” means clubs are often thrown straight into the deep end. The University of Miami often had to deal with their season hanging in the balance with Florida State University being their first opponent throughout the 2000’s. For the winner, the path has been cleared for the rest of the campaign. For the loser, panic attacks and prayers hoping to salvage a damaged season. This is what the Magic City Clasico has become.

2019 Miami United Preview: Don’t Call It A Comeback

Miami United Team Photo Courtesy Of Miami United FC

Despite not walking away with a trophy in 2018, Miami United had one of their best seasons to date. Would a deep run in NPSL playoffs have been great? Of course. United, however, managed to make an impressive run through the 2018 U.S. Open Cup with a roster of genuine unknown players to the local soccer scene. 2019 proves to be a tougher challenge, however, the pink and black have a chip on their shoulder. 

FXE Futbol, LLC files lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beckham United

FXE Futbol, LLC, the group that challenged Inter Miami CF for the right to redevelop Lockhart Stadium, has sued the City of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beckham United, LLC (the holding organization behind Inter Miami). Image via Broward Clerk of Courts.

What would the Miami MLS saga be without yet another lawsuit? This time, FXE Futbol is getting in on the action.

FXE Futbol, LLC, the group that challenged Inter Miami CF for the right to redevelop Lockhart Stadium, has sued the City of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beckham United, LLC (the holding organization behind Inter Miami). The lawsuit was first reported by the Miami Herald.

While the complaint discusses topics we have seen before, there is one wild twist that is being alleged. Perhaps the battle for Lockhart stadium isn’t quite over.

At first glance the complaint, filed by attorney David J. Winker, requests that the court review the Public-Private Partnership Process with regards to the Lockhart site and the city’s decision to award the project to Inter Miami.

“This is an action challenging the validity and effect of the frantic and, ultimately, statutorily inadequate, Public-Private Partnership Process undertaken pursuant to Fla. Stat. Sec. 255.065 by Defendant CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE”

FXE Futbol is seeking a writ of mandamus and civil action against not only the City of Fort Lauderdale but Miami Beckham United, citing damages of over $15,000. While this has been par for the course, this is the first time a competitor has filed a claim seeking to reverse the decision by a local government.

Asbestos questions

Where the petition really begins to get interesting is on line item 13. According to FXE Futbol, Inter Miami was spreading falsehoods regarding the level of asbestos present at Lockhart in its current state. FXE Futbol has outlined that Inter Miami was advising the city council that there was “a tremendous amount of asbestos present at the stadium” and therefore revitalization or renovation was not actually possible.

The complaint discusses how procedural violations were made by the City of Fort Lauderdale throughout the process, which is much like what we have seen argued and alleged against Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. Due to this being the first complaint being filed by a competing interest, FXE Futbol is seeking monetary damages in the amount of “lost profits”.

With March 2020 coming closer with each passing day, Inter Miami cannot afford another lengthy court battle that stalls the process of acquiring permits, clearance, and the demolition of Lockhart stadium. With the timeline already being questioned by the public, if this judgement is granted in favor of the plaintiffs we could see a real snag in Inter Miami’s plans to open in 2020.

 

Author’s Note: Omar Moubayed is not an attorney and does not claim to be an active member of the Florida Bar Association. Any and all information in this news story is neither his legal opinion nor the legal opinion of Magic City Soccer.

Magic City Soccer establishes broadcast partnership with The Miami FC

Magic City Soccer Joins The Miami FC Broadcast Network

Magic City Soccer and The Miami FC Broadcast Network today announce the formation of a broadcast partnership to stream all of The Miami FC’s 2019-2020 NPSL regular- and post-season matches.

The coverage will include a preseason match this Saturday against FC Miami City at 7 p.m., as well as the home opener against Miami United FC on April 20 at 7 p.m., both from Barry University.

The broadcast will include Magic City Soccer contributors Omar Moubayed, Lee Ifans and Matthew Bunch, as well as Kartik Krishnaiyer, who served on the broadcast last season and contributes regularly to the club’s multimedia offerings.

Magic City Soccer contributor Abel Iraola will be working in a production capacity on the studio side while continuing to provide excellent coverage of the local soccer scene in English and Spanish. Christian Gomez will be filling in throughout the season and continuing to serve in his primary capacity with our UPSL streams.

“We are pleased to continue offering live complimentary streaming of our home NPSL matches this season for our fans in South Florida and throughout the country,” Miami FC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Matt Britten said in a statement released by the club. “With Kartik’s depth of knowledge of the game and our club, along with the experience that Lee, Matthew and Omar bring from covering and broadcasting local Miami soccer for years, we will provide a versatile, high-quality broadcast for our fans and corporate partners.”

“Magic City Soccer is honored to partner with The Miami Football Club in their fourth year of competition,” Magic City Soccer co-founder Omar Moubayed said in the statement. “Throughout the years, MCS has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with The Miami FC while covering the club. This agreement allows us to take the next step with our platform and shine the brightest of spotlights on Miami’s premier soccer organization as The Miami FC look to defend their NPSL title.”