August 17, 2012
On August 17, Judge Harry Leinenweber of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Soccer Federation and its co-defendant Major League Soccer (MLS) in a long-running legal battle with Championsworld, a now bankrupt promoter of international exhibition soccer matches. Championsworld claimed that US Soccer does not have authority to sanction and charge fees for such matches, and that US Soccer conspired with MLS to use its sanctioning policies to favor MLS and to drive Championsworld out of business. Championsworld sought relief under the federal antitrust laws, the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act and on various state law theories. In ruling in favor of US Soccer, the court enforced and then relied upon a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport issued in July 2011 in connection with this case confirming that, as a national association member of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, US Soccer had the authority to sanction and charge fees for such international exhibition matches involving FIFA-affiliated clubs and teams. Latham & Watkins LLP represented US Soccer in these proceedings. The Latham team was led by Los Angeles litigation partner Russell Sauer and included numerous lawyers from the firm’s San Francisco, Chicago and New York offices.