Silva loses CAS appeal after battling U.S. Soccer’s promotion/relegation rules

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Riccardo Silva has lost his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as he battled to overturn U.S. Soccer’s rules blocking promotion and relegation.

Silva, a wealthy businessmen who owns second-tier side Miami FC, campaigned to overturn the closed system of Major League Soccer and wanted to bring an open pyramid to soccer in North America.

The ruling at the center of this battle was from FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, as Article 9 states “a club’s entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit.”

His legal battle against U.S. Soccer has lasted for over two-and-a-half years and his appeal over a FIFA ruling in favor of U.S. Soccer was rejected by CAS earlier this week.

CAS stated that FIFA’s rules only apply to competitions that already existed as a pyramid structure and added that “while the wording of Article 9 could be understood as rendering that provision to be universally applicable, FIFA didn’t intend for the rule to apply to U.S. Soccer.”

According to New York Times reporter Tariq Panja, Silva’s representatives are “proud of their fight” and still believe that “an open, merit-based system would bring major benefits to the quality of the game, and would create inclusive, competitive and non-discriminatory soccer in the USA.”

Currently MLS is a closed league where no teams can be relegated to a lower division or promoted into MLS due to finishing top of the second-tier. The only way teams can enter MLS is by being voted in by the expansion committee and by paying an expansion franchise fee.

Those hoping for promotion and relegation in North American soccer will keep fighting but this is a big blow for their hopes of making it a reality.

The United Soccer League (USL) have already discussed possible movement between their USL Championship, League One and League Two divisions in the coming years. However, given USL’s close alignment with MLS due to each top tier team either having to have a reserve squad playing in the USL or be affiliated with another USL team, there won’t be any concerted push from the current second-tier to make promotion and relegation to and from MLS a reality.