Friday, May 29, 2015

Florida's Deep Connections to the FIFA Indictments

Did you notice a name with Florida ties among the list of soccer executives indicted in the federal crackdown on FIFA corruption?  How about North American Soccer League (NASL) Board of Governors Chair Aaron Davidson?

That's the same NASL that the Tampa Bay Rowdies play in!  And the same NASL that State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) added to a list of eligible leagues for state stadium subsidies

The league took quick action to distance itself from Davidson, a Miami resident, but soccer insiders know it won't be easy.  World Soccer Talk explains how deep the relationship runs:
NASL Commissioner Peterson has tried to publicly keep the league distant from (Davidson's company Traffic Sports USA), though public perception fueled by the realities of the early days of the league have made this effort difficult. Peterson last month told a group of assembled reporters that Traffic had no stake in the league beyond ownership of Carolina. This might in fact be the case in the present day, but few can dispute that without Traffic and Aaron Davidson, NASL probably does not exist in its current form, if at all.
Davidson/Traffic also used to own the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, among other teams.

The Rowdies deferred me to a NASL statement on the investigation that read:
"In light of the ongoing investigation announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday, the North American Soccer League's Board of Governors has suspended Chairperson Aaron Davidson, along with all business activities between the league and Traffic Sports, effective immediately. Commissioner Bill Peterson will serve as acting Chairperson.

The Carolina RailHawks, the sole NASL club owned by Traffic Sports, will continue to operate in the ordinary course of business. The club's management team will continue to manage the day-to-day operations. 
No word on how the investigation could affect a Tampa Bay bid for the 2016 Copa America.

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