The owners of the Ottawa Fury are blaming “politics” for the decision to suspend operations for the 2020 season, after the team failed to obtain sanctioning from governing bodies that oversee the United Soccer League (USL).
In order for a team to play in the USL, they must be sanctioned by three governing bodies: Canada Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Federation and CONCACAF.
The latter is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies that oversee soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The team did receive a one-year sanction from Canada Soccer for 2020, but the other two bodies have not indicated they would sanction the team for the upcoming season.
In a statement, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Mark Goudie said he believes the U.S. Soccer Federation and CONCACAF intentionally ran them out of time.
“I think it’s apparent that soccer’s hierarchy is trying to force Fury FC out of the USL,” the statement said, adding that it was
OSEG is Fury FC’s parent company and also owns the Ottawa Redblacks and Ottawa 67’s.
John Pugh, an OSEG partner that oversees the Fury, wrote in a letter to fans posted on the team’s website that the reason for suspending operations was simple.
“[It’s] politics,” Pugh wrote. “Despite our best efforts over a period of many months, we were unable to obtain full sanctioning and since schedules must be developed, players signed and tickets sold, we simply ran out of time.”
The team is holding a press conference on the suspension Friday morning.
Sanctioning in doubt last season
The Fury’s future has been in doubt before, after CONCACAF told the Canadian Soccer Association in 2018 it would not sanction the team’s ongoing membership in the USL.
Fury FC had widely been expected to be home to the eighth team in the Canadian Premier League, which launched in 2019.
The club, however, was allowed to remain in the USL for the 2019 season after an about-face by the agency.
The OSEG statement included a comment from USL president Jake Edwards, who said he was “disappointed.”
“Ottawa Fury FC is an extremely professional, well-run organization and it’s frustrating to see them treated in this way,” Edwards said.
Ottawa was the only Canadian team playing in the USL.
Finished 8th in 2019
The Fury initially played in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 2014 to 2016 before jumping into the USL in 2017.
Last month, the team announced it was parting ways with head coach Nikola Popovic after two seasons.
The Fury plays home games at TD Place stadium at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, which can hold 24,000 spectators.
The club finished in eighth place in the USL’s eastern conference in 2019 with a 14-10-10 record.