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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.

U.S. Soccer names Brian McBride general manager of USMNT

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A familiar face is returning to the United States men’s national team fold.

Former United States international and Premier League striker Brian McBride has been named general manager, US Soccer announced on Friday.

The former Fulham captain fills the role that has been vacant since Earnie Stewart’s promotion to sporting director in August. The three-time World Cup veteran will report to Stewart, and will begin work as the general manger immediately. McBride is expected to join Gregg Berhalter and company in Bradenton, Florida, where a training camp is taking place.

“We are thrilled to have Brian McBride assume the role as general manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Stewart said. “Through his impressive career as a three-time World Cup veteran and at clubs in England, Germany and the United States, he has earned the respect of his peers around the world. The hard-earned reputation will allow him to forge important relationships both internationally and here at home, and his understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed at the highest levels will be invaluable to our player pool and our staff.”

The 47-year-old will oversee the development and management of the player pool, build and lead the culture within the national team, and manage relationship with clubs.

“I am incredibly honored to once again represent the national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation,” McBride said. “It’s critically important for everyone to understand the privilege and pride that goes with wearing the jersey, and I’m excited about the opportunity to build relationships with players and clubs that align with the philosophy and values of U.S. Soccer.”

McBride made 95 caps for the Stars and Stripes and scored 30 goals during his USMNT playing career.

McBride’s 16-year career saw him play for Columbus Crew, Wolfsburg, Fulham and the Chicago Fire. He was on loan at Preston North End from 2000 to 2001 and at Everton in 2003. The Illinois native made 148 Premier League appearances throughout a seven seasons, scoring 36 goals and assisting nine times. In the summer of 2007, he was names the Whites’ captain.

Most recently, McBride was a television analyst for Fox Sports and ESPN. In 2011, he also founded the McBride’s Attacking Soccer Academy, while in 2014 he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Judge grants USWNT class status in discrimination lawsuit

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The U.S. women’s national team has been granted class status in its lawsuit against U.S. Soccer that alleges gender discrimination in compensation and working conditions.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner’s ruling Friday in Los Angeles expands the case beyond the 28 players who originally brought the lawsuit to include all players who had been called up to camp or played in a game over a multiyear period. U.S. Soccer had opposed the move to certify the class.

[READ: Lloyd leads USWNT, Andonovski to first win]

Twenty-eight players, including stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, were part of the original suit filed against U.S. Soccer in March alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation between the men’s and women’s teams. A May 5 trial date has been set in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The federation has maintained that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result. Men’s team players are paid largely by appearance and performance, while the contract for the women’s team includes provisions for health care and other benefits, as well as salaries in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The players disputed U.S. Soccer’s claims that some of them made more than their male counterparts, maintaining that if men had been as successful as the women’s team, they would have earned far more. The U.S. women won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. The men failed to make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Judge Klausner did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit but acknowledged the players’ claims that they were paid less on a per-game basis than the men and did not enjoy the same working conditions.

“The failure to provide the (women’s National Team) with equal working conditions is a real (not abstract) injury which affects each Plaintiff in a personal and individual way,” the judge ruled “Plaintiffs also have offered sufficient proof of this injury. Indeed, Plaintiffs have submitted declarations establishing that WNT players were subject to discriminatory working conditions.”

Molly Levinson, who speaks for the players in matters of the lawsuit, applauded the ruling.

“This is a historic step forward in the struggle to achieve equal pay. We are so pleased that the Court has recognized USSF’s ongoing discrimination against women players – rejecting USSF’s tired arguments that women must work twice as hard and accept lesser working conditions to get paid the same as men. We are calling on (U.S. Soccer President) Carlos Cordeiro to lead USSF and demand an end to the unlawful discrimination against women now,” Levinson said.

U.S. Soccer had “no specific comment” on the ruling.

Ledezma, Mendez headline U.S. Olympic training camp squad

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While Sergiño Dest is taking some time to think over his international future, two dual-nationals currently in the U.S. Soccer system are sticking with the Red, White, and Blue for now.

Richard Ledezma of PSV and Alex Mendez of Ajax both accepted call-ups from U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Coach Jason Kreis for a training camp this month featuring many Olympic-eligible players. The U.S. squad will train in Miami and play a friendly match against El Salvador.

El Salvador of course knocked the U.S. out of the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, handing Jurgen Klinsmann – and Caleb Porter at the time a huge blow both in terms of player development and having a chance to represent the USMNT at a major tournament.

Other members of the squad include Minnesota United talents Mason Toye and Hassan Dotsani, Hannover forward Sebastian Soto, Atlanta United centerback Miles Robinson and Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards.

The news that Ledezma and Mendez, who are both eligible to play for the USMNT and Mexico in the future, are in the squad for this training camp is a great sign for US Soccer fans. Soto as well is eligible to play for Chile and Mexico due to his family history.

It’s unclear whether Tata Martino would have a place for any of these players in his team, but as they grow in Europe, there’s no doubt that they will receive more interest from the Mexican FA (FMF).

That said, US Soccer can show that they’ve invested countless hours in Ledezma, Mendez, Soto, and of course in Dest as well in the youth system, all preparing them for a great pro career and success with the national team. The longer Mendez and Ledezma stay in the US system as well, the more likely they’ll stay after developing great relationships with their teammates and other coaches.

USMNT players’ union back USWNT in equal pay battle

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The US National Soccer Team Players Association (UNSTPA) have released a statement backing the USWNT in their equal pay battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Following USSF president Carlos Cordeiro releasing a statement which included claims that the USWNT cost U.S. Soccer $27 million over the last 11 years and that they paid the women’s team more than the men during that period, the men’s national team have once again reiterated their support for the USWNT.

“The federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them,” said the UNSTPA. “This is more of the same from a federation that is constantly in disputes and litigation and focuses on increasing revenue and profits without any idea how to use that money to grow the sport. One way to increase profit unfairly is to refuse to pay national team players a fair share of the revenue they generate.”

The UNSTPA, the labor organization for the current and former members of the USMNT, went on to pick apart Cordeiro’s comments regarding labor negotiations as their current CBA agreement expired at the end of 2018 and they are yet to hear from him.

“The women’s national team players deserve equal pay and are right to pursue a legal remedy from the courts or Congress. The Federation correctly points to the different payment systems with USWNT players on contracts, but we do not believe that justifies discrediting the work they do or the real value of their profound impact on the American sports landscape. The only solution Mr. Cordeiro proposes is for fans to buy more tickets and watch more games on television.

“He conceals the fact that the money will not go to USWNT players when sponsors pay the Federation to support the USWNT, fans buy tickets to USWNT games at ever-increasing ticket prices, and television companies pay more when more fans watch USWNT games. That is neither fair nor equitable. We are also surprised Mr. Cordeiro is writing about labor issues since he has yet to contact the USNSTPA since taking office. As you may know, our CBA expired at the end of 2018 and we are currently waiting on a response from US Soccer to our proposal that would pay the men a fair share of all of the revenue they generate and would provide equal pay to the USMNT and USWNT players.”