Controversy rises again between MYSA and NSC
This past January, I reported on a controversy between Minnesota Youth Soccer Association and the National Sports Center. You can go here to read that story.
In brief, MYSA didn’t sanction NSC for their internationally recognized Schwan’s USA Cup because of conflicts in dates which interfere with the MYSA district playoffs that precede the state tournament. NSC repeatedly tried to contact MYSA to work out a resolution in which MYSA never responded. Finally, after weeks of emails and phone calls, NSC went to US Club Soccer to sanction not only the USA Cup but all of their tournaments scheduled for 2009.
MYSA has now posted a very damaging memo to its clubs throughout Minnesota. This same information is now being spread throughout the country with Wisconsin Youth Soccer posting a similar letter to its members.
Date: March 12, 2009
To: MYSA Member Club Presidents and DOC’s
From: Bob Poretti, MYSA President
Candace Daley, MYSA Executive Director
cc: MYSA Board Members
MYSA Staff Members
Re: National Sports Center (NSC) 2009 Events
At a Region II committee meeting in San Jose last week, Minnesota informed its US Youth Soccer State Association counterparts that there has been some miscommunication about the NSC events for 2009 that historically were sanctioned by the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, but this year were sanctioned by US Club Soccer instead. As a result, many US Youth Soccer State Association administrators asked Minnesota to send out an email that could be shared with its members. In addition, we have been receiving a number of questions from our members looking for clarification as well.
Since the NSC events for 2009 were sanctioned by US Club Soccer, and not the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, participants cannot use their MYSA/US Youth Soccer Member Pass from MYSA, their US Youth Soccer State Association, and insurance provided by MYSA does not provide coverage for the NSC events this year. Anyone wishing to participate in the NSC events for 2009 may certainly do so but since the event is sanctioned by US Club Soccer this year they will need to ensure they have adequate insurance coverage. The applicable 2009 NSC tournaments include the NSC Spring Cup, NSC Cup, Wal-Mart All American Cup, Schwan’s USA Cup, Schwan’s USA Cup Weekend and NSC Fall Cup.
According to US Youth Soccer Executive Director Jim Cosgrove, this information would apply to any tournaments sanctioned by organizations other than US Youth Soccer State Associations or the US Youth Soccer Association itself.
NOTE: This information will also be posted on the MYSA website.
The following is WYSA letter:
To all WYSA members:
This past week, we became aware of a change in the relationship with the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, Minnesota with the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA). Effective immediately, there are no tournaments at this venue that are sanctioned by MYSA. Rather, the venue contracted with US Club Soccer (a competing youth soccer association) for sanctioning.
Therefore, none of these tournaments are recognized by the Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association. If your teams wish to participate in any of these events, the WYSA insurance will not be in effect. Also, as indicated below, the player passes cannot be used for these events.
If you have any questions on this, please let us know.
Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association
Steve Olson, Chief Operating Officer of the National Sports Center Foundation, has informed me that the National Sports Center has contacted the Attorney General’s Office over this issue. Olson, a former Executive Director of MYSA and former member of the US Soccer Board of Directors believes MYSA is misinterpreting the rules. Olson and NSC released this statement last Friday:
Recent communications from the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) have caused considerable confusion regarding USA CUP and other soccer events held at the National Sports Center (NSC).
To help clarify the issues for all clubs and teams affiliated with MYSA and USYSA:
1. All MYSA-USYSA teams are permitted without restrictions to participate in USA CUP and all other NSC events. All NSC events are sanctioned by US Club Soccer – an affiliate in good standing with the United States Soccer Federation, the parent organization of USYSA and MYSA.
2. Insurance coverage will be provided to all MYSA-USYSA teams at all NSC soccer events. The NSC will insure that all MYSA or USYSA teams will have comparable insurance coverage at no additional expense or hassle to participants.
3. The NSC will administer a quality player pass system at all NSC soccer events. For 24 years, the NSC has registered and managed player passes for teams from all around the world.
In summary, all MYSA-USYSA teams can participate in all NSC events with insurance coverage and without hassle and any additional fees.
As a former Executive Director of the MYSA, former member of the US Soccer Board of Directors, and FIFA referee, I am familiar with the laws, rules and bylaws of the USSF and USYSA. I believe that the MYSA is misinterpreting the rules and is causing needless hassle and confusion for NSC soccer events. USSF affiliates are not allowed to discriminate against other affiliates. We have made formal contact with the USSF and the Minnesota Attorney General’s office. We will provide you with an update in the future.
We look forward to your continued participation in the USA CUP and other great NSC soccer events.
Thank you for your support.
So here’s my take on this mess. Let’s say MYSA felt they had a legal obligation to notify their members and all USYSA affiliated teams that there was truly an insurance issue here and that teams would not be covered. It seems to me, if I were the Executive Director or the President of MYSA, the first thing I would do is pick up a phone and call Steve Olson at NSC and ask him to check on the insurance issue and provide some sort of assurance that MYSA and all USYSA members would be covered for these events. If NSC couldn’t provide that assurance than it would be the organization’s responsibility to make sure all members were notified. This would also be true with the player passes.
It seems communication is the name of the game here. But as I’ve experienced myself, MYSA seems to be having some sort of communication meltdown recently. I don’t understand what’s going on there as they seem to be bunkering themselves in and protecting themselves from lawsuits. Perhaps this is a sad sign of the times, but it’s not a stance that’s helpful to improving youth soccer in this state nor to the growth of the game through good relations with all the major organizations, each who have an important role to play.
Lets look at this issue another way. We are in the middle of a major economic crisis in this country and Minnesota is not exempt. In fact the State is in the middle of its own economic crisis, with lawmakers trying to figure out how to balance the budget. At the same time our current president is telling us that we need to spend to help the economy. Business, stores and restaurants seemed to be closing all around us and as they do, jobs are lost, incomes are gone. These are people we know, our neighbors, perhaps our coworkers, maybe even you or me.
Let me give you some figures about the USA Cup and some economics that even I can understand.
The USA Cup and the USA Cup Weekend are big. How big? The last figures I saw suggested the event was the largest international youth soccer tournament in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world. Of the 361,000 spectators roughly 40% come from outside Minnesota. This puts the out of state economic impact at about $30 million, just for the ten days of these two tournaments. The sales tax alone on this is a bit over $2 million. Has anyone been at the Mall of America during the USA Cup? During that week, MOA is packed with soccer players and their families. I’m sure if I delved into this further I could come up with figures of how the city of Blaine is impacted by not just these two tournaments but all of the NSC tournaments. In recent years there’s been tremendous growth of retail stores and restaurants in direct proximity to the National Sports Center. There is no doubt there is a direct correlation between the growth of attendance at NSC and the growth of retail in this area.
The state budget for the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission who oversee the NSC is less than $300k. So the Commission returns about $1.7 million in new state revenue from its operations. These figures are including just Schawn’s USA Cup and USA Cup weekend tournaments. So I ask this question, is there another state agency with that big of a percentage of return on investment?
MYSA and USYSA have every right to question the National Sports Center to make sure their members are insured and will be registered properly for these events. It’s their duty to do so. What I don’t understand is why MYSA wouldn’t communicate with the NSC and the MN Amateur Sports Commission to make sure these issues are resolved before issuing a damaging statement. Their statement could not only hurt the National Sports Center, but could discourage those coming from outside the state to spend money on the Minnesota economy at a time when the State desperately needs every dollar it can get.