Rejected: Ottawa Fury threatens to call in the lawyers after CONCACAF refuses USL sanction By Steven Sandor Posted on December 12, 2018 2 0 572 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter The Ottawa Fury, at the moment, is homeless. The club issued a statement to the media Wednesday night that didn’t mince words. It was titled “Ottawa Fury FC forced to fight for survival.” CONCACAF has served notice that it won’t sanction the Fury to return to the USL in 2019. The Canadian Soccer Association had already greenlighted the move. This move will no doubt mobilize lawyers on all sides. “This action by CONCACAF is unprecedented and simply wrong,” said Mark Goudie, President and CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group in the release. “Our lawyers have requested that CONCACAF immediately provide further details on the basis for this decision. We also understand that Canada Soccer will be seeking clarification as to the rationale for CONCACAF’s decision. In the event that CONCACAF does not immediately reconsider its position, Fury FC will take all steps – including legal proceedings – so as to ensure that it will be able to continue providing professional soccer to our loyal and new fans and supporters in a league of our choosing.” The Fury announced earlier this year that, though the team was at the table with the other Canadian Premier League clubs, it had opted to remain in USL. It would continue to support the CanPL in principle and keep an open dialogue with the team. Meanwhile, the CanPL said it had offered the Fury concessions — including mitigating salary-cap concerns — so that it could join the new league. There were concerns that the Fury would have a hard time transitioning overnight from a higher USL budget to a CanPL salary cap. The CanPL is seen by CONCACAF as Canada’s first division. Goudie said: “I am also grateful for the pledges of support that we have received today from Canadian MLS clubs Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who understand the important role that Fury FC currently plays in the Canadian professional soccer pathway and landscape at the high-calibre North American Division II level.” This second part of the statement is key. Because, the question will be, if the Canadian Premier League is the new, official Division 1 in Canadian soccer, what would stop CONCACAF from forcing the three MLS teams to go, as well? The argument is there; if CONCACAF wants Canadian teams playing in the Canadian first division, will the MLS teams be in the organization’s sights at some time? So, it’s not surprising that the three Canadian MLS clubs have already voiced support for the Fury to continue playing in the American league. “It’s wrong,” said USL President Jake Edwards in the statement. “Forcing a team to move from the league it is scheduled to play in – and wants to play in – three months before the season starts is unacceptable. Schedules have been set, players signed, season tickets sold. It’s not fair to anyone, including the 35 other teams in our league who are being negatively affected. Allowing this to happen would set a very poor precedent and we’ll do everything in our power to support the Ottawa Fury FC.” Canada Soccer issued the following statement: “Canada Soccer can confirm that it has been advised by Concacaf that it would not be authorizing the participation of the Ottawa Fury in the USL for the 2019 season. Canada Soccer had previously approved Ottawa Fury’s participation in the USL for the 2019 season. In accordance with international football regulations, Canada Soccer then requested sanctioning of the Fury’s cross-border league participation from US Soccer and awaits their decision.” The Fury has stated that it will continue to prepare for the 2019 USL season, but it is ready to offer refunds for 1,500 season-ticket purchases that have been made, if it comes to that. What the release doesn’t say is that the Fury would be willing to go to CanPL. Goodie said that he hasn’t had any contact with CanPL since the decision was made to not join the new league. “From my experience, and I’ve been in this game for many decades, I’ve never witness or heard of such a thing,” Fury general manager Julian de Guzman said of the CONCACAF decision. “For myself, it’s very unacceptable, to understand the meaning behind this kind of movement. From what we have in place to the the people who support us, we are doing our very best to overturn this decision and we are strongly confident that we will see you guys in 2019, come spring, to enjoy more Fury excitement, more Fury success.” CONCACAF’s president is Victor Montagliani, the former head of the Canadian Soccer Association. When the idea for a Canadian Division “1A” was first hatched, Ottawa and FC Edmonton were both in the NASL. And Montagliani said the new Canadian league would “co-exist” with MLS and NASL. Montagliani didn’t have a smooth relationship with USL. When MLS and USL announced a developmental deal in 2013, Montagliani, then president of the CSA, said that the association wouldn’t sanction independent Canadian clubs in USL. This is a for sure: The next big Canadian soccer battle will happen in the courts, not the pitch.