FIFA, U.S. Soccer sued by promoter in anti-trust case

(Reuters) – The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) illegally conspired with football’s governing body FIFA to prevent foreign clubs and leagues from holding competitive matches in the United States, a lawsuit filed by a sports promotions company alleged on Monday.

Relevent Sports, LLC, the company that organized the International Champions Cup this summer, claimed FIFA and the USSF worked together to stop it from bringing regular season games to North America from leagues such as Spain’s La Liga.

“This boycott has deprived fans of international soccer in the U.S of the opportunity to attend Official Season International Soccer Game Events in the U.S. and is a blatant anti-trust violation,” the filing in U.S. District Court in New York, seen by Reuters, said.

Emails to FIFA, Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer seeking comment on the suit were not immediately returned.

Although some of Europe and South America’s biggest clubs play friendly matches in the United States and elsewhere, they cannot play regular season matches there.

Relevent tried to bring games from the Ecuadorean league as well as a high-profile Barcelona vs Girona match to the United States but was blocked, Relevent said.

“The US Soccer Federation continues to be delinquent in its responsibility to promote the growth of soccer, by instead protecting the bottom line of its business partner, Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS,” said Relevent’s CEO Daniel Sillman, referring to the U.S. professional men’s league, Major League Soccer.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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