Thursday, May 28, 2015

FBI Indictment Body Blow to USSF, NASL

Among the dozen+ arrests made by the United States Department of Justice yesterday was President of Traffic Sports DSA, Inc, Aaron Davidson. Many of you might already know but Traffic had a heavy hand in the creation of the new NASL about a half decade ago. Since the formation most teams in the league of found their owners save for Carolina RailHawks. Davidson is also chairman of NASL Board of Governors.

There are many that pit the NASL against Major League Soccer like two warring factions trying to claim the same land but in reality they both fall under the leadership of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and it is their responsibility to make sure operations are being run legally (among other things). The presence of such a person as Davidson in your organization shows a high degree of incompetence, ignorance, or worse, deeper corruption.

Soccer has long been the fifth wheel in the US and has many stereotypes that continue to dog it since... since, as far back as I can remember. Many of those stereotypes are being confirmed. Right now as I type, there's more info pouring out of every Fifa confederation across the world. Briefcases full of money, former Fifa vice presidents falling ill to avoid questioning. Even some reports saying the 2002 World Cup was rigged (which, is likely true, as most are 'steered').

All of this is incredibly damaging to the sport in the United States and, in particular, the NASL. At the moment I'm fairly confident that the teams in the league will survive but I have my concerns about which league they will be playing in down the road.

Major League Soccer nor it's mysterious partner Soccer United Marketing (SUM) is mentioned directly in the indictment but there is enough smoke to say there is a fire. League Commissioner Don Garber is also CEO of SUM and the DOJ report mentions a handful of unnamed companies similar to SUM, as well as 25 additional co-conspirators.

I do believe that for all it's ills, MLS likely pays it's taxes. They might not fly straight, but they do that, I think. I'm not so confident about SUM (which was formed in the early 2000s shortly after Garber arrived) nor am I confident as to how SUM was formed or how they obtained the rights that they have.

We'll have to see. Just since I started writing this USSF president Sunil Gulati has been tasked to run CONCACAF in this time of crisis. Gulati is long to lover of the status quo at Fifa but all this is happening in his backyard.

Much more is to come, that's for certain.

Here is the paragraph in the official FBI Indictment on Aaron Davidson.

30. The defendant AARON DAVIDSON, a citizen of the United States, was an individual employed by and associated with the enterprise. At various times relevant to the Indictment, DAVIDSON was a high-level executive, including the president, of Traffic Sports DSA, Inc. ("Traffic USA"). Traffic USA was a Florida corporation that had its headquarters and principal place of business in Miami, Florida and was involved in the purchase and sale of media and marketing rights associated with soccer in the United States and other parts of the CONCACAF region. Traffic USA also participated in the ownership and management of the North American Soccer League ("NASL"), a division of United States men's club soccer sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, as well as the ownership and management of multiple clubs within the league. The NASL was headquartered in New York City and its teams were based in various cities in Canada and the United States, including in the Eastern District of New York. As further described below, Traffic USA was part of the Traffic Group, a multinational sports marketing conglomerate based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The above is not a connection USSF would like to have. This investigation is far, far from done and Davidson is likely just the most sloppy at doing this type of work. All these guys will be singing over the next few weeks and a lot of dirty laundry will be aired. Best to just step back and get out of the way.

Oh, and pay your taxes. That's basically what this is all about.

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