Rocco Commisso: “We played our first game at the end of march and less than five months, they want to put us out of business.” (FrontRowSoccer.com photo)
By Michael Lewis
Rocco B. Commisso has a message for U.S. Soccer and anyone else that wants his soccer team to go away:
Shame on you.
Speaking for the first time since Thursday’s conference call concerning the North American Soccer League’s lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, the Cosmos owner laid into the federation, Major League Soccer and both New York teams in the first division.
“First of all, shame on anyone that tried to shut our club down,” Commisso said during the halftime show of the Cosmos’ home game with Puerto Rico FC at MCU Park in Brooklyn Sunday. “And it starts with the very top of United States soccer.”
On Sept. 1, the U.S. Soccer board of director rescinded the NASL’s second division sanctioning for 2018 and offered the league to play as a third division circuit.
Commisso, who is chairman of the NASL, saved the Cosmos from extinction after the 2017 season, with the stipulation that he would own the team if the NASL was sanctioned as a second division league.
“We played our first game at the end of march and less than five months, they want to put us out of business,” Commisso said during his halftime interview on MSG Networks with announcer Jonathan Yardley. “They want to do that, frankly, because of the conflicts that exist in the world of soccer.”
Commisso took on what he claimed were “stupid standards” of U.S. Soccer.
“Standards like we need to be in three time zones,” he said. “We are in three time zones. We happen not to be in the central time zone.”
The NASL has teams in the Atlantic, Eastern and Western time zones.
He then brought up the time when MLS was down to 10 teams and had four owners operating 10 teams, which was allowed by U.S. Soccer
“Everybody knows that story,” Commisso said. “So they changed the rule. At one point in time, you only needed eight or 10 teams in the MLS. As soon as the MLS filled up their teams, they started changing their rules because they view the NASL … as a huge threat to the monopoly power that the MLS has for U.S. Soccer.
“So the whole purpose of this lawsuit, frankly, is to see if they’re right. We expect, we hope, to have an injunction relief, by no later than Oct. 31. If we get the injunction relief, the team will play next year and then we don’t have to worry about the damn rules of the organization is and then we’ll settle this in court.”
He also took a swipe at the owners of the Red Bulls and New York City FC, saying that they are owned by foreigners. Commisso, who was born in Italy and emigrated to the United States, cited the Red Bulls’ owner comes from Austria and that the latter’s owner hails from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
“I come to every game of the Comsos,” he said. “I doubt any of them has ever gone to watch as many games as I’ve watched this year. .. So I’m really a local guy. Nothing has been done to make sure that Rocco and his team, the Cosmos, are allowed to play going forward.”
Commisso made one thing clear quite clear– that he won’t go gently into the night.
“Everyone should know out there that I am going to fight this until I have my last drop of blood because what they have done is absolutely unconscionable and whoever is the president of this organization, whoever is involved with making that decision, they should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.