Rocco B. Commisso did not hold back during his conference call. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
The Cosmos won’t be around in 2018, but team owner Rocco B. Commisso still took some shots Thursday.
They weren’t the usual variety that occurs on the field. They were verbal salvos at the U.S. Soccer Federation, Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing, among other targets.
Commisso, who purchased the Cosmos a year ago, held court on a media conference call, two days after the North American Soccer League announced it would not play in 2018. On Sept. 1, the USSF told the NASL its Division II status for the 2018 would be rescinded.
While Commisso said he had not made up his mind whether the Cosmos would return to play in 2019, he was certain litigation would continue for a few years. He said he lost about $18-19 million last year — so he would be ready to lose that amount for the next two years — while league owners lost a collective $50 million.
Among the topics Commisso tackled:
* The relationship between SUM and MLS:
“The USSF, for this to be fixed, has to become an independent, regulatory agency, period. End of story. The SUM deal should not exist, and the favoritism towards MLS should stop.
“You’re talking about this great organization in being transparent. Transparent to who? … I would like to see the SUM agreement. I would like to know why the SUM agreement was finalzied after we filed the lawsuit when they had three years to finalize it.”
* On whether he has heard from U.S. Soccer since the NASL decision not to play this year:
“I got a letter a stupid letter, a snarky letter, a letter that I would take to the bathroom because I run out of paper. Wondering if we were going to play in the fall of 2018. Why didn’t we go to them toask for sanction. I heard nothing, nothing from [new president Carlos] Cordeiro, no calls, zero. He’s the new chief I heard. It’s his job to come to me to acknowedge the mistakes that were made. It’s his job to come to me and say, ‘Rocco, maybe there’s a different way to fix this thing up.’ They had plenty of opportunities in the last three or four months to say, ‘There is a way of fixing this that makes everybody happy.’ ”
On the U.S.’s 2016 World Cup bid along with Mexico and Canada (Morocco is the other candidate:
“I would be absolutely shocked with the U.S. losing it. What I am hearing from people in South America or people in Africa or the people from Europe, the name Sunil Gualti [bid committee chairman and former USSF president] is not the right name to be leading the charge. There are huge question marks on whether gulati had anything to do why people went to jail when they did … by saving his neck. The American media assumed that the only crooks there was didn’t live in this country. In our midst, for 25 years we had this guy Chuck Blazer that was a crook, was charged to be a crook, and saved himself from jail from whatever happened.”
Blazer, a New York City resident, became an FBI informant on some of FIFA’s unsavory dealings before his death last year.
On the United Soccer League:
Commisso said he was subsidizing some of his former Cosmos players to play in the USL. He also claimed that an average USL payroll was around $400,000, which he paid last season to one New York player.
“Do you a lot of people work on a part-time basis,” he claimed. “Do you know a lot of people work they get paid by the hour?”
On North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik deciding to move his team from the NASL to the USL:
Commisso claimed Malik being appointed to the USSF board of directors was a payoff for the move.
“That’s the way [the USSF] do business,” he said. ” ‘You take care of me, I’ll take care of you, as long as it’s within our own family because we are in charge of soccer. We are the ones that everybody has to go through if you want to play a part of soccer.’
“I find that to be demeaning, I find that to be absolutely disgraceful, I find that to be the No. 1 reason why our country has failed miserably.”