How can I get into US football?

Structural problemsWhy US football treads on the spot

A little more than a week ago, third division club Portsmouth FC on the English Channel Coast had high-profile visitors. The new owner had come to shake hands with his players. A few days later, before the season opener, Michael Eisner marched into the stadium to applause.

Very few football connoisseurs will be able to do anything with his name, although he is a legend. Michael Eisner has produced successful Hollywood films such as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Beverly Hills Cop" and was then head of the entertainment company Disney. He is considered the man who made the global company what it is today.

His vision for Portsmouth FC, an elevator team with a proud past and energetic, loyal fans? Growth. Ascent. "We looked around the US, but there weren't any good opportunities. Unlike here in the heart of contemporary football," says Eisner. His commitment costs him just under 10 million euros.

Numerous English clubs in American hands

The sum is not the problem, says Dennis Crowley, who invented the successful Internet app FourSquare. But where his compatriots invest: Not in the USA, but in the Premier League, where clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Crystal Palace and one floor below Fulham, Millwall and Sunderland are firmly in American hands.

It is the structure that deters. Nobody in US football can buy a team at the bottom and then bring it up and make a nice return. There is no ascent and no descent. Clubs are also cut off from the transfer proceeds. The US association cites an obscure legal situation as a justification. Crowley, who founded Kingston Stockade FC an hour ago at regional league level outside of New York, doesn't think that's good at all. Not in view of the potential. More than 1,000 spectators come to his club's games in a small high school stadium.

Lawsuit before the International Court of Sports

That is why he and the owner of Miami FC sued his US federation at the CAS International Court of Justice in Switzerland, and FIFA did too. Because the statutes of the world association speak a clear language, says Crowley: "Why should you buy a team in a lower division? Where can you get with it? Nowhere. We want to change that so that you can get to the top of this pyramid. If you can are good enough if your club is run to a high standard. "

It is easy to fathom where the bulwark against such a reform lies: the American Football Association, which, under the leadership of President Sunil Gulati, has not made any progress in the level of performance of the national team or in the development of talented American footballers over the past eleven years. Gulati prefers to pursue interest politics on his own behalf - as a member of the FIFA board - than to tackle problems in his own shop. In a podcast by Sports Illustrated magazine in February, he again took the view that everything was in perfect order. No competition? No problem. Ascent and descent? Not necessary.

Sunil Gulati, the President of the American Football Association (imago sportfotodienst)

"What is the empirical evidence? My main finding is not that one system is better than the other. This is what we have," said Gulati. "It's very different in many areas. Not only when it comes to promotion and relegation." Gulati's main concern: Don't worry about investors in the loss-making Major League Soccer.

More clubs for better training opportunities

But against it stands what the long-time football manager Peter Wilt, among others, preaches: It is urgently time that more professional clubs emerged nationwide. They would attract more fans and give young players better training opportunities. They would be discovered and promoted earlier. In January he wrote for the sixth time - this time in a so-called manifesto, which attracted a little more attention. Such texts are no longer enough for Dennis Crowley. He preferred to have his lawyer draft a brief and take legal action to put pressure on him.

"I don't want to believe that the association is malicious. Maybe there is a lack of staff, maybe they have other priorities. But club owners, fans and players - we want something to happen. That's why we make a bit of noise. that in the last week alone there have been a lot more productive conversations. "