Personal Privilege Blog : Open letter to NASL fans setting the record straight

LockhartWe try and keep this blog topical but since it is a forum for me to post something long form about an important personal matter and rumors that have been circulating virtually unchecked on social media for days now, I am going to take that liberty.

The last several days rumors have circulated on social media regarding a number of matters related to the NASL and my reporting of the league’s relationship with Traffic Sports USA, a Miami-based entity who has been at the center of the Department of Justice probe into FIFA. My role as a reporter and soccer analyst has from the view of some fans come into conflict with my previous employment at the NASL allegedly clouding my judgement and prompting me to break rules and perhaps laws to hurt the league. These are patently absurd allegations but given the timeline of external events in the last week, it is no surprise they surfaced at this time.

A few events created the context for this week’s events. First was the interview given by New York Cosmos owner Seamus O’Brien to The Guardian. Second was the sacking on Friday of two men I hold in the highest regard and consider personal friends by the Tampa Bay Rowdies – Farrukh Quraishi and Thomas Rongen. These events and my reaction to them precipitated a storm of rumor, innuendo, nastiness and false allegations that were aired on social media specially Reddit and Twitter.

Let me address the allegations that have been made:

  • I had no documents in my possession when I left the NASL over two years ago that indicated ownership shares of the league and voting powers of Board of Governors members. The members of the press that obtained such documents did not do so from me. My subsequent reporting and analysis on the matter using my personal knowledge of players was guided largely by the reporting on these documents by other media.
  • The claims that somehow I obtained another set of documents sealed in a court case involving NASL and Oklahoma City FC in June of 2015 are false. In fact the league knows this is the case and it is unfortunate that some fans of the league have been led to believe otherwise. The documents were sealed a few days after I obtained them. From that point forward I have not made mention of the contents of these documents. This matter is closed. The contents of those documents are NOT open for discussion any longer as they have been sealed.

Some NASL fans have created an “us against them” campaign regarding MLS and other soccer entities in the United States. I have been urged by multiple people on social media to “pick a side” in the last few weeks. I have my side, it is the side of soccer’s growth in this country and especially in this state which involves multiple leagues and entities at all levels of the game.

I must say I am as die-hard a proponent of NASL as it was originally conceived as anyone around. For years, North America suffered without a viable second division to develop players, markets, fans, supports groups and a soccer culture. Below MLS was an uneven structure of D2 and D3. I am proud to have been part of the NASL team that helped create the first truly professional D2 league in my opinion that this country has had. I continue to watch and cover NASL in this context and looking for the league to grow its success.

But I must add that I support soccer and don’t want another soccer war in this country. In fact we cannot afford one. The rhetoric coming from some NASL fans, Promotion/Relegation advocates and a handful of NASL owners regarding Major League Soccer is counterproductive IMO toward growing the game and ensuring NASL’s long-term stability. That is my view and it has been formed from being in and around this game in the United States for a long time. Does this mean I agree with the way MLS is structured via single-entity and some of the other hokey rules it employs that are dramatically different than other first divisions around the globe? No, it doesn’t but I am grounded in reality and want this game to succeed in this country.

Propaganda from both leagues has been disturbing to me as has the lack transparency both leagues employ on multiple matters, most recently NASL regarding Traffic Sports. Some fans of both leagues have engaged in constant twitter battles similar to that of political party staff here in Florida, except with far more voices. The scripts and talking points seem clear and consistent. Both sides have henchmen on Twitter and often I am caught in the crossfire as are other writers and people who simply want to promote the sport.

I applaud those fans especially members of Flight 19, Section 904 and Ralph’s Mob here in Florida that have demonstrated an ability to think for themselves and not be force fed propaganda from NASL or the teams they support. Flight 19 has been especially courageous in articulating their views which I often disagree with. Still I give them full marks for independence I applaud the Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm in Orlando for taking similar views vis a vis MLS and the Orlando City organization.

But all too often we see soccer fans turn into programmed parrots and attack dogs. It’s a symptom of our society with the 24 hour news cycle and cable news channels that polarize people. What we’ve observed in politics through the years has hit the world of American soccer and hence the theory of another soccer war beginning. Fans of both NASL and MLS who have put the league’s interests above all else, often hide behind an ideology or a set of professed values to justify their behavior and personal attacks on me and people like me. It’s a terrible cesspool of negativity and I hope the majority of fans that support either NASL or MLS can rise above it.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Kartik

24 comments

  1. The South Tampa All-Stars won the Junior Softball League World Series . It came down to South Tampa and The Philippines.
    At 12 to 14 years old, they’re not just the best in Tampa, not just the best in Florida, or even the U.S. They’re the Junior Softball World Series champs, for the second time in three years. Final score: South Tampa, 9, The Philippines, 2.
    http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29745976/s-tampa-all-stars-win-junior-softball-league-world-series

  2. Ron Baldwin · · Reply

    The person who said that “no good deed goes unpunished” had it nailed.

    Kartik has my best wishes for all the good he does having this Blog.

  3. NASL Fan · · Reply

    You brought this on yourself. When the FIFA scandal broke you were on a fishing expedition that has not stopped. In the meantime You have done none of the same sort of reporting or investigation of MLS or USSF. You say we should deal with reality but the reality is that two sides exist. People either back MLS or NASL. USSF is with MLS. For ***** you helped create this competition and reality. You would even give interviews trashing USL in papers in Tampa. Sometimes people reap what they sow. When you worked there it was okay to burn down the house and be competitive but once you don’t “oh it’s bad for the sport.”

    Screw that. The most obvious thing is that you have a real problem with the New York Cosmos. That is plainly obvious and has been the most consistent trait of your coverage of all things American soccer since leaving the NASL. The Cosmos are the biggest club and the biggest brand in American soccer by a country mile.

    1. I was always respectful of MLS and USSF when working for NASL. Maybe I wasn’t a conformist before I worked at NASL and certainly have not been after but I was never making comments or throwing bombs lobbed towards MLS in my tenure. As for none of the reporting on USSF/MLS RE: FIFA scandal I would submit we at World Soccer Talk are the ONLY ones pursuing that angle with vigor. Yes we reported on the NASL scandal ties just like everyone else did, but have looked at MLS/SUM/USSF relationships to Blazer as well.

      1. formercampaignexpert · ·

        Don’t engage the trolls.

    2. The Cosmos are far from the biggest brand in American soccer.

  4. danwolf02 · · Reply

    Good post, but i gotta say that a lot of this tension in US soccer landscape has been created by US SOCCER and their being in bed with SUM/MLS. I personally think that we should either have Pro/Rel or do away with the division sanctioning. This would mean MLS would not hold 3 Confacaf spots in their league. Those 3 spots would go with the one spot that is in USOC and would be given to the final 4 clubs in the tournament. This would mean they would all have their league play but USOC is what would matter for any team getting into confacaf.

  5. Gordon Gecko · · Reply

    I agree with every word here but your problem sir is you engage every troll on Twitter who attacks you and they always make the same illogical arguments about the federation being biased and the game being rigged in MLS’ favor. Yet you engage and then get this. Those people don’t listen to your logic and you should stop wasting your time arguing with them.

    1. Fair enough. I know I should stop.

  6. You are a pinhead!!!

    No it is not fair to criticize NASL when MLS in collusion with USSF has rigged the game? Here in Florida how was Orlando able to jump from 3rd division to 1st while Tampa and Fort Lauderdale had no opportunity to move up?????

    Buying your way into the top Divsion isn’t permissible anywhere else on the world. But American crony capitalism picks winners and losers based on $$$ not performance. MLS no different.

  7. Your resentment of the cosmos constant whiny behavior about referees screwing Florida teams conspiracy theories about traffic and slander of NASL earned you this MATE.

    Why not try some real reporting like how USSF and MLS are in cohoots to keep NASL team values down and block access to owners who are willing to invest in top division clubs? How about some reporting on how corrupt Gulati Garber and blazer are! NASL has never been helped by Blazer and MLS is in business only because of the crook himself at the center of the FIFA scandal!

    1. You might want to check who the NASL attorney is before making this really incredible allegation and exempting NASL. Do your own research on this.

  8. As a graduate of journalism school and professional analyst for the government your bias NASL tabloid soccer coverage is appalling. The first lesson in journalism is school scholars teach is that journalist talent of reporting while removing yourself and your bias from a story is imperative. Removing yourself from the story is becoming a lost art form because of people like you that simply haven’t been trained or have not gone to journalism school. It is obvious you have done neither.

    1. Alex interestingly enough more folks think I am BIASED TOWARD NASL for example constantly mentioning the “US leagues MLS and NASL” during shows geared toward European audiences and fans of European leagues in the US. I get so much feedback asking why I mention NASL. Why I always talk about NASL ties to any player or staff. I also have been very outspoken in defending the NASL on D2 sanctioning against USL’s attempts to become a co-D2 with Reserve teams. Trust me, USL HQ isn’t happy with me about this.

      My current issue is that we have an established soccer pyramid in this country that works. NASL was always intended to be a D2 league that improved the quality of professionalism in an established system. What has happened the last few years is the bombast from NASL has disrupted the harmony within the pyramid while at the same time the fundamentals of the league aren’t right. Issues like Traffic are legit and so are several other ones that the likes of Brian Quarstad and others have reported on.

  9. NASL will soon surpass 1 million fans attending their home clubs games. These fans are loyal to their home town club, Like myself who lives in South Florida community because of my loyalty to my home grown club the Fort Lauderdale Strikers I want the opportunity to win NASL Soccer bowl and compete in MLS.

    MLS attempt to squash out NASL by introducing Orlando in hope that folks like me will stop being a fan of my local club because we now have MLS in Orlando or future MLS team in Miami. I can assure you that will not happen.

    You see, MLS is structure like the NFL with big teams and if you don’t have an NFL team in your city, well rout and watch another club near you.

    You see, soccer communities are not like NFL fans. We are loyal to our local club regardless of what division they are in.

    This is a reason why Pro relegation must take place to save those clubs in USL and NASL from being wipe out by MLS single ownership mentality. Sophisticated soccer aficionados understand this and now they have taken this calling to save these small clubs from being financial ruined by the single intertie format.

    You will know in a country as big as our three to four leagues can be supported and will propel the U.S. Soccer as a world power house and it only for the limitation that MLS and USSOCCER alliance is preventing this.

    So if you really truly want to be a soccer reporter and analysis you should uncover why USSOCCER and MLS are against this as it will slowly will financial close the doors of NASL and USL clubs.

    Speaking with a double negatives. Otherwise unnecessary verbiage added in order to confuse the reader, such as using a double negative to make a statement mean the opposite of what it would otherwise mean. Its called double speak and you are a master of that.

    Go after the real story here and that is USSOCCER corruption that is taken place with MLS.

    1. If US Soccer was as anti-NASL as you claim explain why the NASL was granted provisional sanctioning in 2011 when not meeting D2 standards and why teams in NASL continue to get waivers for noncompliance with PUBLISHED standards. The league in fact is continuing to get similar waivers for not being in compliance with PUBLISHED standards.

      My views of the MLS business model and its differences from the rest of the world are well-known and have been published time and again. But you like many who have joined this “crusade” only read a small percentage of what I write or Brian Quarstad writes or Neil Morris writes and then attack us for not uncovering some conspiracy that really isn’t as complex as Ted Westervelt and others seems to believe it is.

  10. As a soccer journalist and analyst. I have written numerous counter point arguments that support the opposite of your NASL theories and tabloid soccer journalism to Christopher Harris, Founder, Editor and Publisher of World Soccer Talk. In fact, let the record show here in this forum that World soccer talk continue to report a one sided news angel about the NASL and refuses to publish counter well balanced good news articles/arguments about the NASL. And, has blocked readers who wish to express themselves on your stories from censoring readers thoughts by blocking there ability to post counter arguments to your stories. Indeed, http://www.worldsoccertalk.com
    has censored readers from posting counter arguments and refused to publish NASL stories that do not fit their publication and your anti NASL bias.

    1. Alex I don’t know the circumstances why Chris rejected your NASL posts (might be as simple as a lack of traffic for NASL content…he’s rejected some of my articles also on US lower divisions) but I would be happy to publish them here. As for my “anti-NASL bias” it depends on your view of the purpose of the league. MLS people think I am overly biased TOWARD NASL. NASL people think I am overly biased TOWARD MLS. USL people think I hate them. So I must be doing something right…striking a balance that is BADLY needed in our polarized angry soccer fandom world.

  11. Joe Siravo · · Reply

    NASL fans will set the record straight. You don’t tell NASL fans you were the force tgat creayed the NSSL.Everyone has Skelton’s in their closet. Some bigger than other. So be warrie of those NASL untruth they could haunt you.

  12. Seth Israel · · Reply

    Just got wind of your post and you point out nothing new in your NASL anti rant. Your so bitter…let it go. Why haven’t you covered the Carolina Rail Hawk news how fans there are protesting Traffic Sports for selling their franchise and keeping the profits. It seems New York Times and Washington Post are the only news agency with in depth soccer coverage of the NASL.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/29/sports/soccer/fans-in-cary-nc-protest-as-fifa-scandal-hits-their-little-home-team.html?ref=soccer&_r=0

    You should focus on investigative journalism like the story above rather than opinion soccer pieces that mean nothing.

    Seth

    1. Actually I helped promote the fan protest the day TSF launched it. More stories are coming from various news outlets on this topic area. Anyhow, here is the NASL’s mission statement from the 2012 Media Guide and compare this to the current rhetoric coming from some (not all) in the league.

      “The NASL serving as the regions second division does not have a system of relegation and promotion with the first division (MLS) or third division (USL PRO), nor is there an official working relationship between MLS and NASL. However, in addition the Montreal Impact, a number of recent men’s second division club have gone on to compete in MLS after successfully building a team and fan base at the NASL level.”

      This was the official stand and policy of NASL when I began with the league and continued through the first several seasons of the existence of the newly-reconstituted second division. However, the rhetoric from NASL began to change soon after the New York Cosmos entered the league. The term “second division” was dropped from the league’s official boilerplate language at the bottom of press releases and references to players that had successfully competed at the NASL level and moved on to MLS were dropped from the league’s website and official communications. Rhetorically Bill Peterson, the NASL Commissioner who was hired in November 2012 just months after the Cosmos joined the league, and many team owners began to articulate a different vision for the pyramid in North America. This vision conflicted with the above mission statement and put NASL directly into the realm of competing with MLS. At the same time, MLS reached an agreement with the third division USL to house reserve teams for MLS clubs as well including an intricate set of player loans and affiliations between clubs in both leagues.
      The move by NASL away from cooperation with MLS has had ramifications for the league allowing USL to expand into second-tier markets aggressively that could have easily ended up in NASL. However, USL’s revitalization as I pointed out on the Divers and Cheats show is probably more due to the competition and increased lower divisions standards advocated by and adhered to by NASL than anything USL initiated on their own.
      Certainly MLS has a model of soccer ownership and competition that does not appeal to a great number of soccer fans, perhaps even the majority of said fans in North America. This does leave a door open for NASL, but as discussed on the show the league has far too many question marks right now to be seen as a viable alternative to MLS at the top-tier level in this region.

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