Charlie Stillitano just won’t go away
Remember ChampionsWorld? It was an organization setup by disgraced former MetroStars executive Charlie Stillitano to promote and organize friendlies between European and South American teams. After three years of promoting these matches, it went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Since 2006, it has been engaged in a lawsuit against US Soccer and MLS claiming $50 million in damages and now, according to Sports Business Journal, an Illinois judge has allowed the suit to proceed into court with the case starting as early as Spring 2011.
According to the SBJ piece here are the basics:
Now, before I go on, allow me to add that I am not a lawyer, but it appears to me that the basic question is whether the Ted Stevens Olympic Sports Act allows for US Soccer to charge fees to promoters when the events don’t immediately relate to the “Olympics, Paralympics, and Pan-American Games.” Now, after reading the law (PDF) and specifically the part “Granting sanction for amateur athletic competitions,” it looks like US Soccer is granted the sole ability to sanction and charge fees for competitions held inside the US. But the law does say that the fee must be “reasonable and nondiscriminatory.”
If the intent of the lawsuit is to challenge the USSF’s exclusive ability to sanction soccer matches held within the United States, then I suspect it’s fairly doomed. That ability of US Soccer was one of the secondary elements settled when MLS players’ lawsuit failed a few years back.
Thus, that appears to leave open the question of whether the fees were “reasonable and nondiscriminatory.” I must admit, I have no idea what “reasonable” means in a legal context.
What do folks out there in comment-land think? If anyone out there is a lawyer, I’d be curious to see how you think this lines up.
UPDATE: Here is the ruling from the judge. This looks to me like ChampionsWorld is going after the sort of inherent anti-trust exemption given to national sports governing bodies by the Olympic Sports Act. I find it hard to see how the ruling in the MLS players lawsuit doesn’t stop this one cold, but I’d like to hear from those more adept in reading legal opinions than I am.