Proskauer Secures Victory for Major League Soccer in Antitrust and RICO Case
August 30, 2012 (New York) – Global law firm Proskauer won an important victory for Major League Soccer LLC (MLS) in a long-running and high-profile antitrust and Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case.
On August 17, Judge Harry Leinenweber of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of MLS and co-defendant the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in a lawsuit brought by ChampionsWorld LLC, a now-defunct promoter of exhibition soccer matches. ChampionsWorld filed the suit in May 2006, seeking significant treble damages and claiming that USSF did not have authority to sanction and charge fees for matches it promoted and that MLS conspired with USSF to use the latter's sanctioning policies to bolster MLS and to drive ChampionsWorld out of business.
In ruling in favor of MLS, Judge Leinenweber dismissed ChampionsWorld's antitrust claim, holding that the company could not meet the threshold requirements to prove the claim after finding that ChampionsWorld's economic expert's opinion was "neither sufficiently reliable nor sufficiently helpful."
Judge Leinenweber also enforced a July 2011 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that the USSF, as a national association member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world governing body for soccer, had the authority to sanction and charge fees for international exhibition soccer matches promoted by ChampionsWorld in the United States. He further held that ChampionsWorld’s RICO claim failed because, as the CAS ruling made clear, USSF had sanctioning authority over the matches at issue and therefore neither defendant could have misrepresented whether USSF had such authority.
The Proskauer team was led by Partner Bradley I. Ruskin, co-head of the firm’s Sports Law Group, and included Senior Counsel Scott A. Eggers and Senior Associate Jordan B. Leader, all from the firm’s New York office, and Partner Colin Kass from the Washington, DC office.
The case is ChampionsWorld LLC v. United States Soccer Federation Inc. et al., case number 06-cv-05724, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.