July 16, 2021

 

To: Board of Directors, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA)

From: Ron Restrepo, Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL)

CC: Gary Grossman, New York Club Soccer League (NYCSL)

CC: Skip Gilbert, US Youth Soccer

 

I am in receipt of the letter sent by Andrew Seabury, Secretary of ENYYSA, addressed to me dated July 14, 2021, and received July 15, 2021.

 

The contents of the letter are inaccurate. The decision expressed in the letter is contrary to the stated purpose of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA). The process used to reach the decision is in conflict with the Constitution and By-Laws as well as the Rules and Regulations of ENYYSA (as of August 2020, posted on the ENYYSA website). And, the result of the decision is that thousands of youth soccer players lives are unnecessarily disrupted.

 

Given the urgency of this matter, I sent Mr. Seabury an initial reply to the ENYYSA letter of July 14th on the day I received it (July 15th). My reply was straightforward:

  1. Specifically which ENYYSA bylaw are you claiming has been violated?

  2. Who or which entity of ENYYSA made this decision? If it was an entity (e.g., Registration Committee), who was present? Who voted? What was the motion? What was the vote tally? When did the vote take place? What materials were presented?

3. Since thousands of children’s lives are involved, I expect an answer today.”

 

The response I received from Mr. Seabury (attached following) on July 15th was a non-answer. It did not provide specifics, and, despite the urgency of this situation, it did not even offer a timeline for providing specific answers (“where appropriately”).

 

Ron,

Thank you for your quick response to this particular correspondence.

The Letter was from the Executive Board, as secretary it is my position to sign such correspondence.

We will respond as a Board, where appropriately, to your correspondence .

Andrew Seabury

Secretary 


 

Rather than provide me with vital background information and giving me an opportunity to respond, the original letter sent to me by Mr. Seabury on July 14th (again, received on July 15th)  was distributed on July 15th by ENYYSA to the ENYYSA membership. Due process and fairness were disregarded in violation of the governing documents of USYS and US Soccer (the Federation).

 

In terms of the questions I addressed to Mr. Seabury, as Secretary of ENYYSA, certainly he must know the Bylaws have no provision supporting any that decision to: “Effective immediately, ENYYSA will no longer sanction any NYCSL soccer programming . . .” And, certainly, Mr. Seabury must know who or which entity, without any authority and in an arbitrary manner, made this erroneous decision and how that decision was reached. 

The ENYYSA Constitution and By-Laws state the purpose of ENYYSA as: “(B) Encourage and assist in the development and growth of community leagues, associations, organizations, programs, clubs and teams so that soccer is made available to more participants at all levels of competition.”

 

Threatening to take away NYCSL soccer activities from thousands of youth players is directly contradictory to the stated purpose of ENYYSA. It also violates the Bylaws and Rules of USYS and the Federation.

The ENYYSA Constitution and By-Laws further state the purpose of ENYYSA as: “(E) Provide equitable and prompt hearing and appeal procedures to guarantee the rights of individuals to participate and compete. Those procedures shall include that all grievances involving the right to participate and compete in activities sponsored by the United States Soccer Federation, ENYYSA and its members may appeal to the United States Soccer Federation’s appeals committee that shall have jurisdiction to approve, modify or reverse a decision.” 

 

Consequently, please accept this letter as a formal request for an “equitable and prompt” hearing to immediately reverse ENYYSA’s erroneous decision to “no longer sanction any NYCSL soccer programming” and to have ENYYSA share this reversal with the membership of ENYYSA.
 

So that there is no doubt that the contents of your letter are inaccurate, please consider the following:

  • Paragraph 1

    • You state: “. . . CJSL would be taking over New York Club Soccer League (NYCSL) and running it as a division of CJSL.”

      • This is not what was planned or stated. CJSL was not going to “be taking over New York Club Soccer” or “running it.” NYCSL was going to become a division of CJSL, and that is what has happened. The ENYYSA governance documents do not dictate how its leagues supervise their divisions.

    • You state: “. . . it (NYCSL) would not be called NYCSL . . .” 

      • This is not true. The ENYYSA governance documents do not dictate the nomenclature for leagues or their divisions. This was verified by an ENYYSA Board member.

    • You state: “. . . there would not be a NYCSL cup anymore.”

      • This is not true. No such condition was agreed upon. Please see the next point.
         

  • Paragraph 2

    • You state: “. . . teams would be steered towards ENYYSA cups.”

      • This actually has happened. Since NYCSL became a division of CJSL, the ENYYSA State Cup has seen an increase in teams participating:

        • 2021 --- 334 teams (year NYCSL became a division of CJSL)

        • 2020 --- 230 teams

        • 2019 --- 230 teams

        • 2018 --- 122 teams

        • 2017 --- 150 teams
           

  • Paragraph 3

    • You state: “. . . ENYYSA had been misled about the process. NYCSL did not become a part of CJSL.”

      • ENYYSA was not misled. NYCSL became a division of CJSL as planned and stated from the beginning. This is similar to ENYYSA leagues’ relationship to ENYYSA. The leagues are members of ENYYSA. Does that make them “part” of ENYYSA? If it does, then NYCSL can be considered a “part” of CJSL.

      • On the homepage of NYCSL’s website, it clearly states: “NYCSL --- A Division of CJSL”

    • You state: “. . . NYSCL continued to operate as it always had . . . “ 

      • This is not true. NYCSL was a member of US Club Soccer. It no longer is. Now, as a division of CJSL, NYCSL and its thousands of players are affiliated with ENYYSA and USYS. Consequently, NYCSL now complies with CJSL, ENYYSA, and USYS guidelines and supports ENYYSA programming such as the ENYYSA State Cup and USYS programming such as the National League.
         

  • Paragraph 4

    • You state: “. . . NYCSL is not part of CJSL, but an entirely different organization.” To validate this claim, you reference NYCSL’s website, programs, marketing and advertising, communication, and payments.

      • There is no relevance to your references. The ENYYSA Constitution and By-Laws, as well as the Rules and Regulations of ENYYSA, do not mention, much less dictate, how ENYYSA leagues (or divisions of leagues) develop their websites, programs, marketing and advertising, communication, or payments as long as they comply with the ENYYSA Constitution and By-Laws and the Rules and Regulations of ENYYSA. You do not note any specific lack of compliance. 
         

  • Paragraph 6

    • You state: “. . . focusing solely on the financial implications while ignoring all other facets would be irresponsible of the ENYYSA Executive Board.”

      • What is irresponsible is for the “ENYYSA Executive Board” not to recognize and support that CJSL and NYCSL, as a division of CJSL, are functioning well and adhering to the purpose of ENYYSA “so that soccer is made available to more participants at all levels of competition.” What is irresponsible is for the “ENYYSA Executive Board” not to recognize and support CJSL and NYCSL and their efforts bring significant resources to ENYYSA programming such as TOPSoccer and ODP. What is irresponsible is for the “ENYYSA Executive Board” to make an arbitrary decision without any basis or authority in ENYYSA’s governing documents that threatens to take away soccer activities from thousands of youth players that participate in NYCSL programming.

      • What is the “ENYYSA Executive Board”? It is not described in the ENYYSA Constitution and By-Laws or the Rules and Regulations of ENYYSA. It is mentioned twice. But its composition, its responsibilities, and its authority are not explained. So, who is this group that wants to take away soccer activities from thousands of youth players?

    • You state: “We have a responsibility to manage our organization according to the bylaws that our membership has established.” 

      • This is true. However, you fail to reference even one specific Bylaw as a rationale or source of authority for reaching the decision to: “Effective immediately, ENYYSA will no longer sanction any NYCSL soccer programming . . .” Again: you fail to reference even one specific bylaw as a rationale. That is irresponsible.
         

  • Paragraph 7

    • You state: “Since last year we have continued to reach out for clarification and discussion of these issues – and have met with no response or willingness to have meaningful dialogue.”

      • This is not true. I have spoken many times with Richie Christiano and other Board members. When Richie has posed questions in writing, they have been answered. Gary Grossman (NYCSL) has met with Richie, including at the Eastern Regional Championships, and Gary recently (June 22nd) responded in detail to a written inquiry from Richie. To say that we have provided no responses or willingness to have a “meaningful dialogue” is simply false. On the other hand, when the “Executive Board” decided to meet to reach the decision to “no longer sanction any NYCSL soccer programming”, neither Gary nor I were notified or invited to the meeting to present our perspectives. On top of that, as noted earlier, when I received your letter and wrote back to you, instead of immediately addressing my questions, your letter was shared with the ENYYSA membership creating angst throughout ENYYSA. In other words, we were blindsided and not even given the opportunity to respond before the ENYYSA membership was notified. That is not only irresponsible, it is also unprofessional and unfitting of leadership.
         

    • You state: “. . . ENYYSA has been forced to take action to resolve this matter.”

      • This is not true. ENYYSA has not taken action. The “ENYYSA Executive Board”, a constitutionally undefined group, has taken action. And, no one was “forced to take action.” The “ENYYSA Executive Board” decided to take action without providing me or Gary with prior notice, a fair hearing, or redress. 

 

 

In conclusion, an inappropriate decision made arbitrarily, without authority and in violation of USYS and the Federation’s Bylaws and Rules was reached and shared with the ENYYSA membership without due process for either CJSL or NYCLS, as a division of CJSL, and with disregard for the thousands of youth players, their coaches, and their parents who are left to wonder: “What do we do?”

By tomorrow (July 17th) I expect the ENYYSA leadership to respond to me with the plan to address my formal request for an “equitable and prompt” hearing to immediately reverse the ENYYSA decision to “no longer sanction any NYCSL soccer programming” and to have ENYYSA share this reversal with the membership of ENYYSA. Absent such a response, we will have no choice but to notify USYS and appeal to the Federation and seek an accelerated hearing.

In terms of the membership of CJSL and NYCSL, as a division of CJSL, we are going to proceed as normal. We expect the ENYYSA decision to be reversed, and we expect the 2021/2022 soccer year to go ahead as planned with players, teams, and clubs registering and participating in the soccer activities offered by CJSL and NYCSL, as a division of CJSL.

 

 

Thank you,

Ron Restrepo