Commisso Calls U.S. Soccer ‘Too Politicized’

IMAGE, STEVE HAMLIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Cosmos logoThe New York Cosmos majority owner Rocco Commisso was honored with the Foreign Policy Association Medal at the organization’s World Leadership Forum dinner last week in New York.

At the event, Commisso chose to close his acceptance speech by discussing his acquisition of the Cosmos and his ongoing frustrations with the United States Soccer Federation. With the North American Soccer League having its application for Division 2 sanctioning next year recently rejected by the the USSF, the Cosmos’ future is again in jeopardy.

With this disappointing development fresh on his mind, Commisso used his moment in front of members of the FPA to vent his frustrations and bemoan the leadership of the USSF.

“Unfortunately, and I ask for your help now because most of you guys are in the international policy, UN community,” he said. “I know you deal with these policy issues, but could you please use your diplomatic efforts to fix up American soccer, O.K.? I need your help.”

“Soccer is too politicized in this country, you know, and it’s run by people that never knew what a soccer ball was, frankly. I don’t want to get into names but trust me, O.K., that that’s by far the No. 1 problem with American soccer. … If you can find a way of teaching me your skills on how to, you know, change something, it would be extremely useful and helpful. If all you guys and ladies with your diplomatic skills would come and help out American soccer, because we need it. Thank you.”

Commisso may not have been willing to name names, but Cosmos supporters had no problem doing so. The team’s supporters group, the 5 Points, took aim at USSF President Sunil Gulati on Sunday at MCU Park with a tifo displaying the simple message #SunilOut. A smaller banner in the back of the supporters section was even blunter, saying   F–k USSF. The banner with profanity was taken down during the first half, but the larger tifo was hung behind the goal after kick off and stayed there for the rest of the match.

The Cosmos and their supporters’ aggravations with the USSF are mounting as the team and the NASL prepares to make one last push for survival. According to Sports Illustrated, NASL owners met in New York on Friday to formulate a last-ditch proposal to try and persuade the USSF to allow the league to keep its sanctioning next year. The same report stated that North Carolina FC is likely preparing for a switch to the rival United Soccer League, which will have its D2 sanctioning application reviewed by the USSF next month. NCFC has also applied for an expansion team in Major League Soccer.

Meanwhile, FC Edmonton owner Tam Fath confirmed over the weekend that he has attended meetings for the new Canadian Premier League, confirming reports that the Eddies will bolt the NASL. In fact, FCE might be obligated to join what, in effect, would be the D1 league in Canada.

In his statement after the USSF’s sanctioning decision, Commisso made no promises about continuing to operate the team next year if the league slides to the third tier. His only pledge was to do everything in his power to get the federation to reverse its decision. When he took over the Cosmos earlier in the year, Commisso was clear he was only interested in purchasing the team if the NASL remained a D2 league.