Rocco Commisso speaks out about Steve Malik and USSF
Commisso explains that 57% of the votes on the pro council are controlled by MLS. It’s worth noting that 30 of 53 professional clubs in the US that played competitively in 2017 are owned by MLS or its investor-operators so the ratio appears to be fair. But the NASL only has roughly 4% of the votes according to Commisso, despite 11% of the US-based professional clubs being owned by NASL owners.
Given the precarious nature of NASL’s current situation and sanctioning difficulties, expansion was critical. The NASL has had in both 2016 and 2017 first year clubs that have not been able to continue to a second season. Therefore the league put in more stringent vetting standards for potential new club owners. Commisso mentioned that investors gave presentations from the following markets: Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, and Albuquerque. None of these applications were approved during the period of time Malik was on the Board of Directors.
Commisso meanwhile alleges Malik was negotiating independently with USL during the period when these presentations about potential new clubs were being given to the existing NASL owners.
The arrogance of the US Soccer Federation, something any objective person who has worked within the sport in the United States has seen, was also discussed by Commisso.
“I didn’t receive a ticket to the (USA-Costa Rica game at Red Bull Arena) despite being an owner of one of the three New York professional teams” (the match was on September 1, the same day as the NASL was denied D2 sanctioning for 2018). As an owner of a professional team who is in a USSF-member league, Commisso claims he’s never gotten a ticket to anything. Jacksonville Armada FC Owner Robert Palmer had to rent a suite at Red Bull Arena for that United States versus Costa Rica match. At the game, Steve Malik — who was a guest of US Soccer — never came by the Palmer suite to say hello or explain what had transpired at the USSF board level (Malik had recused himself from the vote on NASL’s sanctioning).
Commisso isn’t impressed by Malik recusing himself from the vote alleging he was at the same time working to enhance his own position.
“Look what he did to enhance his position with Don Garber. He went out and screwed us, it’s as simple as that,” said Commisso in the interview.