Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva and Kingston Stockade founder Dennis Crowley have issued a response after their two-and-a-half-year long lawsuit calling for promotion and relegation in American soccer failed in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The two parties originally filed the lawsuit against FIFA, Concacaf and the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) in 2017, citing the inability for lower-division clubs to fight their way up the American soccer system through promotion and relegation.
The lawsuit cited Article 9 of FIFA statutes that states that ''a club's entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit", although FIFA also notes that participation ''may be subject to other criteria".
Last week, CAS ruled that the promotion and relegation statute does not apply to the U.S. and Australia while determining that closed leagues are allowed in countries where they are either already established or are the norm.
The court also reportedly ruled that both clubs must each pay 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,350) toward USSF's legal costs and 7,500 Swiss francs ($7,675) to each of FIFA and Concacaf.
⚽️🇺🇸 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— Riccardo Silva (@_Riccardo_Silva) February 6, 2020
And on Wednesday, Silva and Crowley released a statement stating that they respect the decision made by CAS.
“Two and a half years after the filing of this case, the CAS arbitral tribunal has finally rendered its decision," the statement said . "The CAS panel found that the wording of Article 9 of the FIFA Regulations could arguably lead one to believe that the rule is universally applicable, and that the system implemented in the United States is not compliant with Article 9.
"However, the tribunal ruled that FIFA has considerable discretion and deference when it comes to the interpretation of its statutes, and concluded that FIFA didn’t intend for the rule to apply to US soccer.
"We are proud to have raised an issue which has been affecting soccer in the USA for many years. We respect the CAS ruling, but we 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.”
The lawsuit was not Silva's only push to implement promotion and relegation in the United States. In 2017, Silva's company, MP & Silva, offered MLS a $4 billion global media rights deal that was contingent upon the league adding promotion and relegation.
At the time, MLS stated that the league could not contractually negotiate with an outside media rights holder such as MP & Silva, despite the fact that the offer would have given the league the chance to quadruple its annual media right contract.
Silva's Miami FC currently plays in the USL Championship, having originally started play in the NASL in 2016 under Silva and former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini's ownership.
Alessandro Nesta was brought in as head coach, but the NASL folded in 2018 leaving the club without a league. After playing in the NPSL and NISA in the years since. Miami FC joined the USL Championship, the American second division, for the 2020 season.
Kingston Stockade, meanwhile, began play in 2016 and currently play in the NPSL, the semi-professional league in the fourth tier of American soccer.