U.S. Soccer Rejects Relevent’s Bid to Host Ecuadorean Match

The United States Soccer Federation on Monday officially rejected an application from the soccer promoter Relevent Sports to host a match in Miami between teams from Ecuador’s top professional league next month.

U.S. Soccer said it had rejected the proposed match organized by Relevent — which had sued earlier Monday for the right to hold it, before a decision was rendered — because of a FIFA rule forbidding the hosting of official league matches in foreign countries.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer said that it had followed its standard process — which abide by FIFA statutes — in determining whether to sanction the match, including reaching out to all parties involved in the proposal. It also contacted FIFA and “verified the FIFA Council’s October 2018 confirmation stating ‘the sporting principle that official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association,’” according to the statement.

The FIFA Council, FIFA’s main decision-making body, emphasized its opposition to official matches being held in foreign countries at a meeting in Rwanda last year, after Relevent had tried, and failed, to host a Spanish league match in the United States. Effectively, with Monday’s decision, U.S. Soccer is saying that FIFA rules give it no choice but to rejection the application.

U.S. Soccer has the authority to sanction all professional matches that are played in the United States. Relevent Sports sued U.S. Soccer on Monday, more than three weeks after it first submitted its application, accusing U.S. Soccer of slow-walking it. The application was rejected less than an hour after the lawsuit was filed, and on Tuesday Relevent filed an amended lawsuit addressing the rejection.

According to Relevent’s amended lawsuit, the FIFA Council statement cited by U.S. Soccer is “merely an opinion” and not a rule or bylaw in FIFA’s official rules.

In a statement, Relevent struck a more conciliatory tone, and asked FIFA for guidance on its rules regarding matches. “We ask U.S. Soccer to join us in seeking clarification from FIFA on this issue, which will ultimately be beneficial for the parties involved as we all work to grow and promote the sport we love,” said a spokesman for Relevent Sports.

A FIFA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Email Kevin Draper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @kevinmdraper.

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