Rocco Commisso speaks out about Steve Malik and USSF
The description of the timeline from Commisso is telling if it is in fact accurate as to why views of Malik within NASL circles are so toxic. The Cosmos owner’s claimed that the NASL board was not notified of North Carolina’s departure from the league until September 29 but that Malik had indicated to US Soccer before its September 1 decision regarding NASL’s sanctioning that his team would in fact be jumping to the rival USL.
The tone from Commisso indicates he believes the powers-that-be in MLS and USSF want to drive him personally out of business. While it is without question that Commisso’s hard-charging drive and personality has rankled people in the game, it’s probably less about him and more about the team he owns.
The New York Cosmos represent a unique brand in the annals of American soccer lore. Representing the biggest market in the country and having brought countless people into soccer fandom in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Cosmos legacy persists around the globe to this day.
The MLS model of soccer which has been advocated by the leadership of the USSF under Sunil Gulati is one that tightly controls narratives and investment while ignoring or even ridiculing the pre-1990 history of the sport in this country. The Cosmos represent something very different – a brand that connects with fans across the globe and evokes memories of a time when some of the biggest names in the world of club soccer played in the New York area and across North America.
Routine World Cup qualification and victories in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is always held on American soil, for the United States has been the currency by which the powers-that-be in the game have used to control the system and narrative. But in the post-Trinidad debacle world of American soccer, voices of dissent like Commisso and Wynalda have a greater platform and increased credibility.
Instead of making the types of changes needed to move the game forward, the powers-that-be have engaged in the sort of gamesmanship entrenched yet threatened elites often use in global society to keep power. This includes a certain degree of misrepresentation and character assassination. While our readers may not agree with much of Rocco Commisso’s assertions or not find his tone necessarily to their liking, his voice is an important one in this critical time and so we present this extended interview.