The North American Soccer League’s ongoing battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation just got a little bit hotter.

The league has asked the USSF to remove North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik from the organization’s board of directors, according to ESPNFC’s Jeff Carlisle. The NASL wants the board to replace Malik “with an individual who can fairly represent the NASL,” the letter stated.

Malik’s North Carolina team had been a member of the NASL until he decided to join the rival United Soccer League for the 2018 season.

The NASL claimed that Malik had a conflict of interest. In a letter written by interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal sent to USSF secretary general Dan Flynn, the league said that Malik owned teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (North Carolina Courage) and the NASL when he was appointed to the board earlier this year. Since he has moved his team to the USL and the team is still a candidate to acquire an MLS expansion team, the NASL claimed that Malik had a conflict of interest, the letter stated.

“Despite Mr. Malik’s obvious interest in staying on good terms with MLS, the USSF has consistently presented him to the NASL and the public as the Board member looking out for the interests of the professional leagues other than MLS,” the letter said. “In fact, USSF specifically determined that Mr. Malik represented NASL when considering NASL’s eligibility to vote for the At-Large position on the USSF Board.

“At this point, it is impossible to figure out whose interests, beyond his own, that Mr. Malik really represents on the USSF Board. In our view, at the very least we know that he did not represent the interests of the NASL or the best interests of U.S. soccer as a whole during the Board’s deliberations leading to the discontinuance of NASL’s Division II status for 2018.”

The NASL is appealing a court ruling and a USSF decision to rescind Division Two status for 2018.

The league has appealed a ruling by Judge Margo K. Brodie for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in which its quest for a preliminary injunction to change the USSF’s decision was denied.

On Nov. 13 the league filed a brief that argued why the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York should overturn the U.S. District Court’s ruling.

Oral arguments in the appeal are scheduled to be heard Dec. 15 at 10 a.m.

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