For the second time, Relevent Sports has had an antitrust lawsuit against U.S. Soccer dismissed.
On Tuesday, U.S. district court judge Valerie Caproni
ruled that the federation had not conspired with FIFA to block the organization of competitive league and cup matches involving foreign clubs in the United States.
A year ago, almost to the day, Caproni dismissed Relevent's antitrust suit brought against U.S. Soccer in the Southern District of New York after the federation would not sanction an Ecuadoran league match -- Barcelona vs. Guayaquil City -- at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium. Earlier plans to host a LaLiga regular-season contest in Miami between Barcelona and Girona were also blocked.
In its July 2020 ruling, Caproni also granted U.S. Soccer's motion that any tort claim Relevent had against U.S. Soccer should go to arbitration. But she gave Relevent the opportunity to add FIFA as a defendant and amend its antitrust complaint.
In Tuesday's ruling, she found that following FIFA policy and not sanctioning league matches by foreign teams did not amount to an unlawful agreement between U.S. Soccer and FIFA, the two defendants.
She took exception to arguments by Jeffrey Kessler
, Relevent's attorney, that the pleadings included sufficient evidence of a conspiracy to overcome a motion to dismiss, writing that "the resulting exchange leads the Court to suspect that Relevent does not fully understand the pleading standard."
Kessler also serves as the attorney for members of the U.S. women's national team in their equal pay suit against U.S. Soccer and the North American Soccer League against U.S. Soccer and MLS in an antitrust lawsuit. In the initial rounds of both suits, federal court judges ruled for the defendants against Kessler's clients.
Relevent has until July 30 to decide whether it will pursue its tort claim in arbitration. Until that matter is settled, Relevent cannot appeal Caproni's ruling.