Antitrust Suit Against FIFA, USSF Revived by Second Circuit

    March 08, 2023, 09:00 AM

    The Second Circuit revived an antitrust lawsuit against FIFA (the world governing body for soccer) and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) ruling that the complaint sufficiently alleges that a FIFA policy banning unsanctioned international league matches violates U.S. federal antitrust law.

    The lawsuit was brought by Relevant Sports LLC after the sports promotion company tried to organize several regular-season matches in 2018 between teams in both the Ecuadorian league and the Spanish La Liga.  In response, FIFA adopted a new rule in 2018 banning such international league games, and the USSF declined to sanction the Ecuadorian league’s scheduled match in Miami, Florida.

    The three-judge panel ruled that the lower court’s dismissal of the suit in July 2021 misinterpreted the Sherman Act by requiring Relevant Sports to allege that the restriction was implemented as the result of an agreement between direct competitors.  The Second Circuit found that there is sufficient evidence to support the lawsuit allegation that the FIFA policy, enforced by FIFA members including USSF, is an illegal agreement to restrict competition in each geographic market.

    The Second Circuit also found that New York courts have jurisdiction over FIFA in the case by sufficiently satisfying the “minimum contacts test” due to USSF acting as FIFA’s agent in New York when sanctioning or declining to sanction matches under FIFA’s 2018 policy. 

    The case will now be return to the district court for further proceedings.