Ottawa Fury FC turns to Court of Arbitration for Sport in sanctioning dispute

Ottawa Fury FC's Eddie Edward reacts after his team's loss against Toronto FC. (Mark Blinch/CP)

Ottawa Fury FC is turning to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for help in its sanctioning battle with CONCACAF.

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the CAS is an independent body which facilitates the settlement of sport-related disputes, through arbitration or mediation.

The Fury, the only Canadian team left in the top tier of the United Soccer League, chose to remain in the U.S. league in 2019 rather than join the new Canadian Premier League, which is slated to kick off in April.

The Ottawa team says it has received the green light from the Canada Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation only to have CONCACAF, which governs North and Central America and the Caribbean, say it would not sanction playing in the USL.

"We are on the clock," Mark Goudie, president and CEO of the Fury’s parent Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "In the current situation, only four weeks before the scheduled start of training camp, Fury FC is unable to sign players or sell tickets because of the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future.

"We need a rapid resolution to the dispute and that’s what the CAS was established to provide."

Given the launch of the CPL, CONCACAF says it does not see the "exceptional circumstances" needed to sanction Ottawa Fury FC playing in the U.S.-dominated USL.

There was no such sanctioning problem last year when both Ottawa and Toronto FC 2, along with 31 America teams, played in the USL. But that was before the CPL came on the scene.

TFC 2 is moving into the new USL Division III for the league’s inaugural 2019 season, leaving Ottawa as the lone Canadian representative in the USL first division.

Ottawa had been widely expected to be the CPL’s eighth team. But the Fury, while saying it supported the idea of a Canadian league, said in September that it planned to stick with the tried-and-tested USL. At least for the time being.

Ottawa left the North American Soccer League for the USL in 2017. In joining the USL, the Fury negotiated an agreement that allows it to exit with proper notice to join the CPL.

The latest move by CONCACAF, whose president is former Canada Soccer boss Victor Montagliani, appears to be a bid to ensure that the CPL takes centre stage in 2019.

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