U.S. Soccer is a monopoly accountable to nobody and backed by U.S. courts.
Before listing its anti-competitive behavior, it’s important to understand how soccer federations in other countries sees their roles.
They see their role as enabling competition on the field, rather than squashing it.
This is in sharp contrast to how U.S. Soccer views its role. It sees its role as controlling soccer from top to bottom to favor the pockets of its chosen winners. Competition on the field is secondary. It’s just entertainment.
Following are a few ways I’ve watched U.S. Soccer squash competition with progressively raised brows over the past few years
U.S. Soccer-controlled MLS/SUM actively blocks or absorbs competition, like the NASL (blocked) or USL (absorbed).
Also, check out how U.S. Soccer placed a USL team in Chattanooga to try to steal goodwill built up by Chattanooga FC, which doesn’t like to play by U.S. Soccer’s playbook.
Further, they control the teams in their preferred leagues. They are basically one team with different names in different cities.
Competition is rigged, outwardly, through a labriynth of leaugue rules to spread players across these teams.
Other countries see their role in leagues as sanctioning a merit-based competion among individual clubs. The merit they are after is the quality of soccer on the field. Let the best teams fight it out on the field! They don’t intervene to spread talent out.
U.S. Soccer has also squashed competition to its expensive coaching curriculum.
Some federations believe good coaching should be widespread, rather than exclusive. They want as many young players as possible to benefit from good coaching. Their licenses are cost a fraction of a U.S. Soccer license.
Key question: Why? US Men’s Soccer is third or fourth tier. Who would pay for a license from them if they weren’t forced to?
U.S. Soccer recently made moves to corner the market for MLS teams on transfer fees, training compensation and solidarity payments in how it restructured its development academy.
Soccer federations in other countries know they can’t possibly find and train the country’s next wave of talent all on their own. They understand that finding those diamond-in-the-rough of players is all about casting as wide of a net as possible.
They see transfer fees, training compensation and solidarity payments as incentives to get as many clubs as possible engaged in this process to cast that wide net.
That greatly lowers the chance that top notch players don’t slip through the cracks because their parents can’t afford pay-to-play or can’t drive 2-3 hours for their child to be a part of a Development Academy team.
These are just some of the anti-competitive activities I’ve seen U.S. Soccer take in the past few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more actions taken behind the scenes.
When U.S. Soccer desanctioned NASL, it was challenged in court. The courts upheld the desanctioning because it recognized U.S. Soccer’s right to commit anti-competitive actions as part of its charter to ‘govern’ the sport in the U.S.
How can we take soccer back?