Rocco Commisso has some good ideas.
He wants to eliminate perceived conflicts of interest throughout America soccer. He wants to provide opportunities for lower league clubs with less financial clout so they can one day compete with the millionaires that run MLS. He wants to introduce competitive bidding for television rights, rather than funneling them all through Soccer United Marketing.
These are all fantastic ideas that can help grow American soccer, but Rocco Commisso has no idea how to make any of his ideas a reality.
Commisso published a short series of letters between him and the United States Soccer Federation on Monday and those communiques don’t paint him in a great light.
They make him look like someone who doesn’t understand the bigger picture in American soccer, and are simply an attempt to drum up rage and publicity towards the demise of the New York Cosmos, and the NASL as a whole.
Commisso’s initial letter is simply a rehashing of every issue the NASL and its supporters have brought up for years. It calls out a suspiciously close relationship between MLS and the USSF. It accuses the USSF of favoritism between the federation and the MLS/USL “cartel” that directly led to the demise of the NASL. The kicker is the demand for a promotion/relegation system put into place for the 2020 season, with no detail on how he will make that happen. It’s nothing someone familiar with the conflicts in lower league soccer hasn’t heard before.
He wants a meeting between himself and U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, and he wants it now, which is where he truly shows his lack of awareness of the landscape in American soccer.
“In conclusion, with the support of USSF, I stand ready and willing to put capital behind an attainable plan to finally make soccer one of America’s preeminent sports,” he wrote. “My sincere hope is that this letter jump starts a productive conversation about how we can achieve that goal by working together.
“Given the time sensitivities for the 2019 season, I am available to meet with you as early as next week.”
He caps this all off by offering a cash injection of $250 million initially that he clams will balloon to $500 million through outside investment. Though, as with everything in his proposal, he offers no specific plan on how this will happen.
He wants this meeting right away, as if the USSF and its leadership have nothing better to worry about besides the fate of a mostly defunct soccer league and its marquee franchise.
The problem is, they do have better things to worry about, things that soccer fans, in general, care about a lot more. Rebuilding the U.S. Men’s National Team after their horrendous failures last fall comes immediately to mind. Finding the right coach to lead the team into the future is a large part of that mission. Then there is the issue Cordeiro is working on at this very moment: the bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
“We welcome the opportunity to re-open a dialogue and to determine whether there is a mutually agreeable path forward that does not involve a multiplicity of legal proceedings,” Cordeiro wrote in his response.
“Unfortunately, I must continue to devote myself virtually full-time to World Cup matters over next the month or more.”
This isn’t meant as a slight against Commisso or his cause, it simply reflects the issue at hand for the federation. It’s something that will be resolved in about a month and a half at FIFA’s general congress, at which point, Cordeiro will have a little more time on his hands to deal with a rebellious owner down in the lower leagues.
Cordeiro offered to send a delegation to Commisso to discuss the issue in his stead, which didn’t sit well with the Cosmos owner. He also wants something more specific than the vague end goals presented with no plan on how to get there, something Commisso thinks he shouldn’t have to provide, especially not to a bunch of representatives and not Cordeiro himself.
“I am also disappointed that your response to my letter seems to say that even a meeting with an unidentified ‘leadership team’ will not happen unless I satisfy a pre-condition—presenting you a ‘detailed’ written proposal,” Commisso wrote. “There are several reasons why we are unable to comply with that request.”
He then goes on to express concerns of confidentiality and the need for haste so that the NASL can resurrect itself for the 2019 season.
In the latest response from U.S. Soccer Federation CEO Daniel Flynn, it’s reiterated that Cordeiro is travelling for the United 2026 bid, and has no time to meet.
“I am responding to you on behalf of Mr. Cordeiro,” wrote Flynn. “As I believe he stated in his previous letter, he is traveling out of the country in support of the World Cup Bid. This week, he is between Jakarta, Copenhagen and Dubai! This pace of travel is likely to continue up to the vote on June 13.”
Which leads to Commisso’s true agenda. Yes, he wants reform for American soccer in a way that will enhance his interests as a lower league owner. Yes, he wants to see a successful national team program that can become a force in future World Cups. But that isn’t the goal of publishing these letters.
Commisso knows this meeting won’t happen in the timeline he’s asking for. He simply wants to paint the USSF as villains who are out to get him and what’s left of the NASL. It’s going to enrage the pro/rel zealots and the anti-MLS crowd. It drums up publicity, and assembles a small militia for his cause, and that’s all he wants.