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Controversy rises again between MYSA and NSC

2009 March 16
by Brian Quarstad

schwansusaThis 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.

Here is that letter:mysa4

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.
Thank you!
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.

Peter Mariahazy
President
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.nsc-attn

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.

nsc-ei-90to07The 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.

12 Responses
  1. Ryan M permalink
    March 17, 2009

    I couldn’t agree more with your article Brian!

  2. bruce permalink
    March 17, 2009

    wow

    who are the jackasses in charge of these organizations?

    i have always heard that the nsc people can be difficult to deal with, but this seems insane for mysa to take it this far

    the problems between the two must be deep and long term, not just this tournament this year

    and anyone who knows me knows that i think the state of youth soccer in minnesota is a joke

    the proof to me is that i dont know of any former mysa players in mls (unless you count abdusalam ibrahim, which i don’t)

  3. March 17, 2009

    My kids love the USA Cup. Now it looks like none of their teams will be able to play because of conflicts with districts and regions (what is that?). They’ll probably sign up to guest play on some South American teams. That is, if there are other teams.

  4. March 17, 2009

    I must admit that I am perhaps too uninformed to make my next comment, but that is in part due to MYSA’s lack of response to your constant attempts to get in touch with them a few months back.

    Paid persons at any position should respect their duties well enough to protect the best interests of those that they serve, and constantly attempt to move past conflicts for their constituent base’s greater good. It seems to me that there has been a steady decline in this mentality from within MYSA, but perhaps there is much more that we do not know about. Perhaps they could share what that might be… or is transparency dead?

  5. thors cup permalink
    March 17, 2009

    MYSA’s actions are a direct result of the Thunder’s blossoming partnership with the NSC, and another one of MYSA’s petty ways of getting back at the Thunder (and any organization that chooses to support the Thunder) because of pro team’s new Academy program.

  6. Pollyanna permalink
    March 17, 2009

    The fight between NSC & MYSA has been a long time in coming. Youth soccer tournaments obviously make a lot of money! I know from experience that the conflicts caused by teams playing in both Districts & Schwann’s Cup have been numerous. The Schwann’s Cup has always been unwilling to accommodate MYSA District schedules. While most of the time District officials screw themselves into the ground trying to accommodate teams playing in Schwann’s Cup and still put on a quality event. In the end, more and more teams have opted out of districts in order to play in the Schwann’s Cup because of those issues. This situation is MN version of the big business of youth sports.

  7. thors cup permalink
    March 17, 2009

    Sorry Pollyanna, District Reps screw themselves into the ground because MYSA puts them in a position to do so by standing behind the fact that districts is more important to MN youth soccer than participating in one of the largest international soccer events in the world, an event that is right in our backyard. USA Cup makes money? Of course. But doesn’t MYSA makes money of Districts?

    This is just another example of the idiocy and vindictiveness that represents the current MYSA administration and some of their decisions this past year or two. It’s really too bad that some very good people within MYSA are being cast in the same poor light.

  8. Pollyanna permalink
    March 17, 2009

    Thor Cup, I did not mean to sound like I was taking a side on this issue. Rather just pointing out that this has been a long time incoming. Neither NSC nor MYSA seems to be able to look beyond there own interest and figure out a good compromise that would benefit everyone involved.

    MYSA seems to be comprised of lawyers these days, which is a very troubling development. I think there standard answer of filing lawsuits will in the end drive talented people that can further develop MYSA and soccer in MN to other organizations.

    I will be interest to see how this develops. I would think that NSC would now become a powerful allied to US Club Soccer. Will this be the spark that finally gets US Club Soccer going in MN?

  9. March 17, 2009

    Pollyanna and others. I have had plans for some time to do an interview with US Club Soccer to better explain it to those that don’t really understand what it is…not that I understand all that well myself but I do have a better understanding than I did last fall.

    As I’ve said previously, US Club soccer can help our better players get to the next level as can MTA. In defense of MYSA, they also have to look at the rec players and all players in between and make sure they are representing them as well. Not an easy job.

    Pollyanna, I sadly agree with you that MYSA is comprised of lawyers recently. Very sad indeed as this is not the way to the future of youth soccer or growing future pro soccer players, both boys and girls as Bruce commented. This is only protectionism and is self serving. Perhaps survivalist would be a better term. As you said, there are many at MYSA that are so much better than that. So much more capable. John Curtis, and Andy Coutts amongst many others. Good people stuck in a bad situation.

    The question then is what is the way out to a new model and new outlook?

    I feel sort of helpless except to bring this stuff to the forefront and start a constructive discussion about it. One thing that I’ve thought about is inviting member of NSC, MYSA, the Thunder MTA and a few clubs to a round table discussion and record it for a podcast on my site. The goal would be the player who is just being born. What can we do for him/her in 10 years, in 15 years to give him/her the opportunity to play at a high level and still look after the rec player who if cultivated correctly, learns to love the game and support the high level player we have helped achieved their goal of playing pro.

  10. Cam Stoltz permalink
    March 17, 2009

    The one thing here that seems to be the most impacted: Less play. Less play by Minnesota players (kids). Less play by people who would come to Minnesota (to play Minnesota kids and spend $), less opp to positive promote the game in Minnesota. The synergies that made the events (really USA Cup) and help build the MYSA base are trashed (for now). Bottom line, high level tournament or really big event, the USA Cup has been a great local option for so many and so many levels. Cooperation and leadership need to out weight egos and egg. Please take care of it before the egg dries.

  11. March 18, 2009

    My club recently (late 2008) won a USSF grievance against both MYSA and NDYSA (North Dakota) for multiple violations of USSF bylaws. That decision and the appeal (also won by my club) are shown on the USSF website at http://www.ussoccer.com/common/stContent.jsp_51-greiva.html and on my club’s website at http://www.fargosoccer.org. I am the club president and argued the grievance. At the grievance hearing, MYSA had no legal representation. NDYSA had an overabundance.

    I fully support the NSC and US Club Soccer in this latest dispute with MYSA. I believe MYSA is again violating multiple USSF bylaws, rules, resolutions, etc. In particular, there is a USSF resolution which does not allow insurance issues among USSF Member Organizations to be used as a reason for not allowing interplay at events like the USA Cup. Email me at matt@fargosoccer.org if you would like a copy of that USSF resolution.

    Just this past week the MYSA booted two of my U10 teams from the MYSA NW league. I believe this is a violation of the USSF grievance decision and multiple USSF bylaws. I have given MYSA until March 23, 5 pm to reinstate these two teams and issue an apology. If not resolved by March 23, I am ready to file another grievance and hope the USSF will remove certain MYSA Board members and ban them from soccer governance for a lengthy period of time. A similar action happened approximately 8 years ago in Rhode Island. Again, I have that Rhode Island decision and would be happy to share it those interested.

    In my opinion, MYSA is out of control and are acting in a detrimental fashion to the interests of youth soccer players.

  12. West Metro Coach permalink
    March 18, 2009

    Although this doesn’t get at the root of the problem, I disagree with Pollyanna’s scheduling comments as I have personally experienced the complete opposite. Several years ago, my first opponent at USA Cup Weekend, neglected to check the schedules the day before the game to notice a schedule change. This resulted in the other team forfeiting, but in the spirit of the game, we decided to play the game at later time. The problem was we had a District game in Buffalo that evening, and the District was unwilling to change the schedule for us. We played our 2nd USA Cup game that afternoon, barely made our district game, and then rushed back to Blaine to play the rescheduled game at 9 pm. To manage this, USA Cup worked for several hours to come up with a full referee team with the Tournament Director with a can of bug spray and a cooler full of ice cream for the teams. I could recount multiple other stories where I have witnessed USA Cup bending over backwards to accomodate teams to get all the games played.

    I do have to give credit to the West District as they have tried to know which of their teams are playing in USA Cup to be proactive with District scheduling to avoid conflicts. The downside has been that in my experience, once that schedule is set, there has been little if any flexibility with the District Schedule. I feel the burden has been placed on USA Cup to change their schedules when conflicts arise.

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