Joe Barone: “There has to be a come to Jesus moment. How do we come together? How do we get to operate? Everyone can co-exist.” (Photo courtesy of the NPSL)
By Michael Lewis
As chairman of the National Premier Soccer League, Joe Barone says he has found himself in the middle of a soccer war, a confrontation that he would like to end.
So, he is offering an olive branch so officials from his league, U.S. Soccer Federation and the United Soccer League could sit down and discuss what is transpiring.
“This war’s got to stop,” he told FrontRowSoccer.com. “I call for the soccer war to stop, come together and have peace. Everyone can prosper.
“There has to be a come to Jesus moment. How do we come together? How do we get to operate? Everyone can co-exist.”
Barone claimed his league has come under attack from the USL.
On Aug. 1, the USL announced that it would add a USL Division III team in the same Tennessee city as Chattanooga FC, one of the most successful NPSL teams and one that is considering playing in a professional league. A week later, Chattanooga Pro Soccer, the Division III team, named Sean McDaniel president and general manager of the club. McDaniel was GM of the NPSL side for six years.
NPSL officials fear that the USL will try to put teams in some of their other markets.
The NPSL is a 98-team amateur league. Fourteen teams are considering forming a professional league under the auspices of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association. At least 14 representatives from as many NPSL clubs are scheduled to meet in in New York City Thursday and Friday to determine the future of a potential pro league.
“What is the NPSL going to do? It’s not going to take the MLS or USL out of business,” Barone said. “It creates jobs, keeps people employed. It creates jobs for players, coaches, people in the front office.
“We’re going to provide another avenue for players. Not only players, but administrators and a pool of fans. It’s everything that has to do with a league.”
Earlier this year Commisso proposed to the USSF that he would invest $500 million — $250 million of his own money — if the North American Soccer League could return; the league is in hiatus for 2018 after the federation rescinded its Division II status last year. His offer and request to talk to USSF president Carlos Cordeiro was rejected by the federation.
The NASL has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the USSF.
Three NASL clubs had teams competing in the NPSL this past season — Miami FC 2, which won the league championship, Cosmos B and Jacksonville Armada.
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