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Commisso, USSF at impasse over $500m meeting

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New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso tells ProSoccerTalk that he pulled out of a Wednesday meeting with U.S. Soccer regarding his nine-figure offer to fund an American soccer league due to the federation’s unwillingness to send what the NASL deemed the proper decision-makers.

Commisso and several North American Soccer League owners were set to meet with U.S. Soccer in Chicago, but changed their plans when the federation’s delegation was limited to CEO Dan Flynn and legal counsel.

He says the NASL has since proposed a meeting under New York State not-for-profit law which would have the league meet with USSF board members who do not have direct ties to MLS, USL, or SUM.

The Cosmos owner promised $250 million of his own money as well as fundraising of an additional $250 million from other investors.

A spokesman for U.S. Soccer tells ProSoccerTalk that it has responded to Commisso’s latest letter regarding the meeting, and remains open to meeting in the future, noting that it initially proposed the dates and location for a meeting.

And Commisso says the federation’s latest communication says a meeting cannot happen with any board members, as they may be tainted by being subjects of NASL lawsuits. Commisso points out that he’s suing Flynn and Cordeiro as well.

Commisso — who has rallied against conflicts of interest between the USSF, Major League Soccer, and Soccer United Marketing — says he wanted to work out a deal with the federation and its board members, but his conditions were not met and the USSF’s conditions were a non-starter.

On the NASL side, Commisso did not wish to share what he deems “proprietary information” with board members, noting that several members of the USSF’s board of directors were his competitors due to ties with MLS and the USL. In the NASL’s view, meetings like this have led to almost instant competitive reactions from direct competitors to torpedo their plans and trigger competitive imbalance from what Commisso calls “monopoly galore.”

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U.S. Soccer says it’s protecting his information. He’s not so sure.

“The latest from my end,” Commisso said. “We’re gonna make it public one of these days. It’s not true that they are protecting my information. According to my email, they say they have to bring it up to the board. Garber may not vote on it, but they are gonna talk about it. We asked for a special committee of non-conflicted board members, and they won’t give it.”

He essentially views the federation’s request to get his plan for the league and investment as a fact-finding mission. With Carlos Cordeiro unavailable due to campaigning for the hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup, the two sides would not be able to leave the meeting with a plan that would not require further, higher approval. His priority is the bid, a critical moment for his new administration.

The federation wants a plan before a meeting. The league doesn’t believe the plan won’t be shared with its competitors, but requires USSF sanctioning for one because Commisso wants to continue to recruit players of national team caliber and playing in a non-FIFA recognized “Division Zero” league would prohibit that.

And time is on the USSF’s side, not the NASL. While Commisso and other owners have the money to restart their teams at any time, other markets necessary to the league’s reclamation need time.

Commisso says U.S. Soccer told him that a meeting was not necessary for the NASL to apply for division sanctioning before an August deadline for any league.

Commisso’s main requests were a 10-year “runway” to meeting Professional League Standards, and the ability to own multiple teams. He’s also a proponent of promotion and relegation, rules against leagues “poaching” teams, and several measures of transparency and open bidding.

He admits he was stung that after investing millions of dollars to keep the NASL alive, the USSF removed its second division status “five and a half months after my first game,” while the rival USL got more time to fulfill Professional League Standards.

He also rejects the close relationship between MLS and the USL.

“It’s monopoly galore,” he said. “The USL is largely farm teams for MLS. B Teams.”

So what happens if U.S. Soccer doesn’t meet the conditions for a meeting?

“I can’t disclose that,” Commisso said. “But there’s a second part. The law suits continue, and no one gets me to shut my mouth. I will do all I can to represent all the shareholders in United States Soccer.”

N. American World Cup bid hopes economics outweigh politics

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) The U.S. Soccer Federation president believes the economics of North America’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup will outweigh politics in next month’s vote.

Carlos Cordeiro said at a campaign event in Denmark Thursday, “we’re going to get strong support across Europe regardless of the geopolitics.”

The United States-Canada-Mexico bid could struggle for votes from Russia and its allies in the June 13 vote of FIFA members in Moscow.

Rival Morocco is counting on France and Spain for support, due to shared historical ties, and hopes U.S. President Donald Trump’s public comments will weigh heavily on African and Central American voters.

However, Cordeiro says Trump was not a negative factor when the Federation president met 12 South-east Asian voters in Indonesia Wednesday.

A North American tournament promises higher income for FIFA, and Cordeiro says that’s “a strong part of the bid.”

Joint World Cup bidders: Trump hasn’t sparked voter concerns

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Organizers of the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup insist FIFA members have not expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s harsh words about foreigners or the U.S. Justice Department prosecuting corrupt soccer officials.

[ MORE: Digging into the latest USMNT roster ]

“Look, this is not geopolitics,” new U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro said Monday during a conference call. “We’re talking about football and what fundamentally at the end of the day, what’s the best interests of football and our footballing community, and we’ve had no backlash. We’re very focused on the merits of our bid.”

A joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada was submitted to FIFA on Friday along with a proposal by Morocco. The 207 other members of the international soccer governing body will vote on June 13 in Moscow.

Cordeiro, Mexican Football Federation President Decio de Maria and Canadian Soccer Association President Steven Reed spoke from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they were meeting with members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, a subset of the Asian Football Confederation.

A solo bid by the U.S. for the 2022 World Cup was favored going into the 2010 vote but lost to Qatar. FIFA then changed the vote rules to give the decision back to the entire membership, which chose hosts prior to 1986, when the choice started being made by the roughly two dozen members of its executive committee.

“We believe that the member associations are going to judge us on the quality of the bids, on the merits of our bid, and that’s it,” Reed said. “We’re very confident about what we’re putting forward, and I don’t think that we’re concerned about politics.”

Sixty games would be played in the U.S. under the bid plan, including all from the quarterfinals on. Three cities were included from Mexico and Canada, and both of those nations would host 10 games.

Holding a tournament in the U.S. would subject many of the documents generated to subpoena by U.S. federal prosecutors, who have secured numerous guilty pleas to corruption charges from soccer officials since 2015 and obtained convictions at trial last year against Juan Angel Napout, the former president of South American soccer’s governing body, and Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s soccer federation.

“We haven’t had any of those concerns raised by any of the members that we’ve met so far,” Cordeiro said. “The reforms that FIFA undertook some years ago I think were spot on and we feel very confident that ultimately the right decision will be made.”

Morocco’s bid envisions spending almost $16 billion, including $3 billion to construct nine new stadiums, refurbish five others and build or renovate 130 training grounds.

[ MORE: Brazil to face Austria in final World Cup tune-up match ]

The North American bid proposed venues be selected from among 23 stadiums that exist or already are under construction, including three each in Mexico and Canada. Sixteen of the U.S. stadiums are sites of NFL teams.

“The split of matches that we have proposed to FIFA frankly reflects the resources of the three countries,” Cordeiro said. “We in the United States are blessed with some very substantial resources in terms of stadium infrastructure, of cities and so on, and that reflects the 60 matches that we have on the table. But at the end of the day there is a reason why FIFA have asked for or have encouraged joint bids and we do think that our joint bids taken together provide for a vastly superior bid than our competition.”

AP Sports Writer Rob Harris contributed to this report.

Gulati replaced as chairman of North American World Cup bid

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CHICAGO (AP) Organizers of the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup have reconfigured their leadership group after the election of new U.S. Soccer Federation president.

New USSF President Carlos Cordeiro, Mexican Football Federation President Decio de Maria and Canadian Soccer Association President Steven Reed have become co-chairmen of the bid, Cordeiro said Tuesday.

[ MORE: UCL recap | Klopp reacts ]

Sunil Gulati, who had been the sole chairman, will remain a member of the bid committee’s board. Gulati served as USSF president for 12 years but decided after the U.S. failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup that he would not seek a fourth four-year term.

Morocco is the only other candidate to host the expanded 48-nation tournament in 2026. FIFA’s members are scheduled to vote June 13, the first time the entire membership is choosing a host since 1966, when sites were picked for 1974, 1978 and 1982. The hosts from 1986-2022 were chosen by the roughly two dozen members of the FIFA executive committee.

New US soccer GMs to report to CEO, not president

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CHICAGO (AP) The new general managers of the men’s and women’s national teams will report to U.S. Soccer Federation chief executive officer Dan Flynn and not new USSF president Carlos Cordeiro.

The new positions were approved by the USSF board of directors in December and Flynn said understanding of the U.S. leagues in a key attribute for candidates. The new men’s GM likely will be hired first and will head the search for a new men’s coach to replace Bruce Arena, who quit in October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Flynn is on the search committee that will recommend the candidates for the new roles to the USSF board. He is joined on the committee by USSF board members Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles, chief operating officer Jay Berhalter, director of sporting development Ryan Mooney and sport development programs director Nico Romeijn.

“The main responsibilities will include hiring and firing of the senior national team head coaches, overall responsibility for the technical side of the senior team, build a strong, integrated national team staff and management of the day-to-day environment, and monitor of the player pool and integration of new players,” Flynn said.

The U.S. could consider coach candidates from among people working on national teams for this year’s World Cup.

“I don’t think that’s going to hinder us in any way in terms of identifying candidates and speaking to candidates,” he said. “The timing of the hire could be impacted by that.”

Cordeiro was elected Feb. 10 after Sunil Gulati decided not to seek a fourth four-year term.