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FIFA Wins Dismissal of Antitrust Suit

Paul, Weiss achieved a victory for FIFA when Judge Valerie E. Caproni of the Southern District of New York dismissed antitrust claims brought by Relevent Sports, LLC against FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).

The action arose from Relevent’s efforts to host a soccer game between two Spanish soccer teams in Miami in 2018. After failing to obtain necessary approvals to host the match, Relevent brought suit against USSF, alleging that USSF had conspired to prevent the Miami game from going forward in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Relevent also alleged that, in order to prevent the match from going forward, FIFA had adopted an unlawful policy prohibiting regular season games from being played outside the teams’ home country. In a prior order, Judge Caproni dismissed the claims against USSF. Relevent then filed an amended complaint naming FIFA as a defendant. FIFA, a Swiss nonprofit, moved to dismiss Relevent’s antitrust claim both on the merits and for lack of personal jurisdiction.

In dismissing the case for a second time, Judge Caproni ruled that Relevent had failed to plead a plausible antitrust conspiracy. The judge held that Relevent had failed to allege a plausible vertical conspiracy between USSF and FIFA because Relevent alleged merely that USSF had followed FIFA’s rules in declining to approve the Miami match. The judge also determined that Relevent had failed to allege a plausible horizontal conspiracy among soccer leagues and associations worldwide, including USSF. There were no facts suggesting that USSF and other soccer associations had unlawfully agreed to adopt or enforce the alleged FIFA policy Relevent had challenged, she held. Judge Caproni found it unnecessary to address FIFA’s personal jurisdiction arguments and USSF’s other defenses.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Chris Boehning (who argued the motion) and Andrew Finch, and counsel Dan Crane.

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