U.S. plans outdoor league


LAS VEGAS -- U.S. Soccer officials discussed publicly for the first time yesterday details for launching a major national outdoor soccer league.

World Cup CEO Alan Rothenberg submitted a business plan to FIFA for a 12-team, single-entity league that would play an April-September schedule beginning in 1995.

FIFA officials gave their approval for the plan, which they asked be submitted to them this week while they gathered in Las Vegas for tomorrow's World Cup draw.

A major league in operation by 1993 was a condition stipulated by FIFA when it awarded the World Cup to the United States in 1988. U.S. Soccer officials have pushed back the timetable on several occasions but now say they are ready to implement the plan.

"We have some green lights now," Rothenberg said, "and we should be able to do some things very quickly."

Rothenberg said the league will be known as Major League Soccer and already is gathering investors and corporate sponsorship. Although the teams' salary structures, TV rights, expenditures and some marketing would be controlled by the league, each team would be allowed to pick its own players and develop a certain identity, Rothenberg said.

Investors, sponsors and some World Cup revenue will pay the league's $100 million start-up costs. Dallas is among the 30-plus cities being considered for membership.

Rothenberg said about $50 million would be used to cover player salaries and operating expenses. The other $50 million would go to making 25,000-30,000-seat stadiums around the country soccer-friendly, by replacing artificial turf with grass or widening the fields.

Teams would be permitted just three foreign players, although the rule may be extended to five in the early years to ensure proper quality, Rothenberg said.

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