Home-Field Disadvantage: How the Organization of Soccer in the United States Affects Athletic and Economic Competitiveness

Carolina I. Velarde*

The United States men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In the aftermath, soccer followers questioned the organizational structure supervised by the United States Soccer Federation. An analysis of the relationships between professional soccer leagues reveals potentially anticompetitive practices that may contribute to the subpar performance of the U.S. Men’s National Team. This Note argues that the United States Soccer Federation is engaged in economically anticompetitive behavior that impedes the development of American soccer. Certain reforms, including an open-league system and player transfer fees at the youth development level, would enhance the economic and athletic competitiveness of soccer in the United States.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2019, University of Michigan Law School. Thank you to Professors Daniel A. Crane, Timothy Pinto, and Steven J. Cernak for their instruction and guidance. I also thank my wonderful colleagues Michael Abrams, Aviv Halpern, Ryan Marosy, Sarah Mezera, and Jun Ha Park for improving my piece and my first Notes Editor, Paul (“Phil”) Hoversten, for coaching me through the writing process. Last, thank you to my dad for sharing his love for soccer with me and to my mom for cheering for me at my soccer games.

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