What a Pending Supreme Court Antitrust Case Means for Associations
An antitrust case could have major implications on association membership
In 2019, U.S.-based sports marketing agency Relevent Sports Group filed a suit against the United States Soccer Federation for allegedly entering into a conspiracy with football’s governing body, FIFA, to stop teams from playing competitive international matches in the U.S.
Relevent Sports, which wanted to hold those games in the U.S., argued that the policy unlawfully restrained competition and violated U.S. antitrust laws.
While a U.S. District court judge dismissed Relevent’s lawsuit in 2021, a federal appeals court reversed the decision and ruled in March 2023 that membership and agreement to follow an association’s rules suffice to include a member as a defendant in antitrust allegations—conflicting with other appeals courts’ decisions. In other words, since U.S. Soccer is a member of FIFA and agreed to follow FIFA’s rules, it could be included as a defendant for FIFA’s alleged antitrust violations.
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