Billionaire Stephen Ross Sues U.S. Soccer for Blocking Ecuadorian Match

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Stephen Ross claimed foul against the U.S. Soccer Federation for blocking his plans for the U.S. to host the first foreign-league soccer match that would count in local standings.

Ross’s Relevent Sports LLC is touting the proposed May 5 match between Barcelona Sporting Club and Guayaquil City F.C. of Ecuador’s Serie A league -- the top professional league in the country -- as its equivalent “of the Mets versus the Yankees.”

But the U.S. Soccer Federation is refusing to sanction international matches in the U.S. to protect Major League Soccer, the country’s top professional league, Relevent Sports claimed in a lawsuit Monday. It asked a New York state judge to order the federation to sanction the Serie A match.

Ross, whose net worth is estimated at $10.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has a passion for both American and international football. He owns the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and is the founder of the International Champions Cup, a preseason exhibition tournament that features many of Europe’s premier teams including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Relevent also claims U.S. Soccer improperly blocked Ross’s plan to host the final of South America’s Copa Libertadores in Miami after fan violence in Argentina forced its relocation. The game was played in Madrid in December.

U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking comment on the suit.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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