NASL denied 2nd-tier status by US governing body

NEW YORK (AP) The U.S. Soccer Federation denied the North American Soccer League Division 2 status for 2018, a move that threatens the league’s future.

The current NASL started play in 2011 with second-tier status. The USSF raised the United Soccer League from the third tier to the second in January, when both the NASL and USL were given provisional Division 2 status. At the time, the USSF said neither league met all its standards.

The NASL has eight teams this year, down from 12 in its 2016 fall season.

The league said in a statement Tuesday it ”does not believe that the federation acted in the best interest of the sport,” contending the decision harms many stakeholders in soccer – fans, players, coaches, referees, business partners and the ”NASL club owners who have invested tens of millions of dollars promoting the sport.”

”The decision also jeopardizes the thousands of jobs created by the NASL and its member clubs,” the league said.

The league also took a shot at the U.S. national team, which lost a World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica, saying ”the last several days have seen some unfortunate results for U.S. Soccer, both on and off the pitch.”

Aaron Davidson was the NASL board chairman and president of Traffic Sports USA, an NASL investor, before he was indicted in May 2015 as part of the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into soccer corruption. He pleaded guilty last year to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire-fraud conspiracy charges.