Sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler
, who represented MLS players in the 1996 lawsuit against MLS, its owners and U.S. Soccer, is sticking his legal thorn into U.S.
Soccer again. The Financial Times
and New York Daily News
reported that Kessler is representing the NASL and demanding
that U.S. Soccer reconsider proposed changes to its Division I standards that he says are "anti-competitive."
Both publications cited a 13-page letter sent by Kessler July 23 to U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
and secretary general Daniel Flynn
They said the proposed changes in Division I standards the NASL via Kessler objects to are:
-- 16 teams must play in the pro
league, up from 12 (14 by Year 3);
-- 75 percent of the teams must be based in cities with more than 2 million people, up from more than 1 million. U.S. Soccer: 2014 Professional League Standards
Both reports cited Kessler's claim the proposed changes were intended to benefit Division I MLS (which has 20 teams and plans to add teams in Atlanta in 2017, as well teams in Los Angeles,
Minnesota and Miami) at the expense of the Division 2 NASL (which has 11 teams and two more planned to start in 2016 and would like to obtain Division I standing).
population criteria now is an anticompetitive bait and switch," Kessler wrote, "with the purpose of entrenching MLS’s monopoly position at the very time when the NASL is threatening to become a
In 1996, Kessler represented eight players who sued MLS, its owners and U.S. Soccer in Fraser v. MLS (Fraser was Canadian Iain
) file in Federal district court, attacking MLS's single-entity system on antitrust grounds.
MLS won in district court and the verdict was upheld on appeal. The decision did
not affirm or deny that MLS was a single-entity but rather ruled MLS could not as a matter of fact dominate the market for players since it was a global market.
U.S. Soccer's authority to
regulate professional soccer -- specifically sanction international matches -- was the subject of another suit, ChampionsWorld LLC v. United States Soccer Federation, involving the bankrupt
ChampionsWorld that operated an international series of gamees in the United States. U.S. Soccer and MLS won by summary judgment, and the
case was settled after an appeal was filed.
Kessler, who is currently New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
's lawyer in Deflategate, has ties
in soccer going back to the old NASL, which he successfully represented against the NFL in its suit to have the NFL's cross-ownership ban lifted.