(Bloomberg) -- The US Supreme Court let one of billionaire Stephen Ross’ companies press ahead with a lawsuit that accuses two soccer governing bodies of illegally thwarting his efforts to stage regular-season matches in the US between foreign teams.

Rebuffing calls from FIFA and United States Soccer Federation Inc., the justices without comment left intact a federal appeals court ruling that allowed antitrust claims by Ross’ Relevent Sports LLC. The suit accuses FIFA and US Soccer of enforcing an anticompetitive policy that divides geographic markets and restricts access to the game. 

Ross has been trying for years to arrange a regular-season match between two top foreign teams, including a proposed Barcelona-Girona showdown in Miami in 2018. Relevent says US Soccer and FIFA nixed the plan because they wanted to protect Major League Soccer’s monopoly on regular-season games in the American market.

FIFA’s policymaking body eventually adopted a written policy barring regular-season games outside an affiliated league’s home territory. FIFA is the international soccer governing body.



At the Supreme Court, US Soccer said the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a “radical” decision that put members of an association at risk simply for agreeing to abide by the group’s rules. FIFA didn’t file its own appeal but said it supported US Soccer’s bid for review.

Relevent urged the Supreme Court not to intervene, saying longstanding legal precedents allow antitrust challenges over policies that explicitly restrain competition by dividing up geographic markets. 

The high court rebuff came after the Biden administration recommended the court turn away the case.

Ross, who is founder and chairman of real estate developer Related Cos. and who also owns the Miami Dolphins football team, has spent millions of dollars to increase access and profitability in the US soccer industry over the past decade. 

Since 2013, Relevent has run the International Champions Cup, a preseason competition among European soccer clubs hosted in US stadiums. In 2022, it won the broadcast rights for UEFA matches starting this year.

The case is US Soccer Federation v. Relevent Sports, 23-120.

--With assistance from Hadriana Lowenkron.

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