Operating Procedures for International Matches
Hosting of International Matches and Tournaments
Any entity or person wishing to promote a match involving one or more foreign teams must first apply in advance to the U.S. Soccer Federation (the “Federation”) to receive sanctioning for such a match. The entity or person promoting a match must be an Organization Member or club affiliated with U.S. Soccer or engage the services of a licensed FIFA Match Agent. Once the application process has been completed, the Federation shall promptly review such requests. The Federation shall grant such sanction unless it determines that holding or sponsoring the international soccer competition would be detrimental to the best interest of the sport.
Federation’s Operating Procedures for International Matches and Tournaments
Section 1. Definitions
(A) International Match: a match between two teams (either two teams representing a FIFA member, two club teams, two all-star teams, one team representing a FIFA member and one club team, or a team representing a FIFA member or club team and an all-star team) belonging to different members of FIFA. Any match involving two teams belonging to the same FIFA member but not the Federation shall also be an International Match.
(B) International Tournament: A series of International Matches where a winner or champion is identified.
(C) FIFA Match Agent: a person, who is licensed by FIFA as a “match agent” and who, with the Promoter, is responsible for all obligations, financial and otherwise, in connection with the International Match or International Tournament.
(D) National Team: a selection of players from a country who represent or are publicly represented as the national team or national selection of that country’s FIFA member.
(E) Promoter: Any entity or individual hosting an International Match or International Tournament who is responsible, along with the FIFA Match Agent, for all obligations, financial and otherwise, in connection with the International Match or International Tournament.
(F) Admission Match or Tournament: Any International Match or International Tournament for which admission will be charged or gate receipts will somehow be collected. For a non-charity match, any fee collected shall count as gate receipts. For charity matches, a non-required donation shall not count as gate receipts.
(G) Non-admission Match or Tournament: Any International Match or International Tournament that does not qualify as an Admission Match or Admission Tournament.
(H) Double-header match: Any event that includes an International Match and a regularly scheduled professional league match (not including pre-season or scheduled exhibition matches) at the same time for which only one ticket is issued.
Section 2. Match for Which Approval is Required.
For all International Matches and International Tournaments, Federation approval is required. No public announcement of any International Match or International Tournament may be made until the Federation grants approval for the Match or Tournament. If a Promoter or FIFA Match Agent conducts any advertising or makes any public announcement before approval has been granted by the Federation, the Federation may discipline the Promoter and/or FIFA Match Agent, by fining them a minimum of $1,000 for each incident, by denying approval of the International Match or International Tournament, or by levying any other penalty or combination of penalties that the Federation deems appropriate in its sole discretion.
Section 3. Application
For purposes of these Operating Procedures, the Federation has two separate application processes (the "A" process and the "B" process).
The "A" Process is for the following International Matches/Tournaments:
(1) all Admission Matches/Tournaments, except for those involving youth teams (as defined in the Federation policies);
(2) all International Matches/Tournaments involving professional teams, except for "closed door" matches; and
(3) all International Matches/Tournaments involving one or more national teams.
The "B" Process is for the following International Matches/Tournaments:
(1) all International Matches/Tournaments involving youth teams; and
(2) all Non-admission Matches/Tournaments, except those involving professional teams or national teams.
The details of these two processes are set forth below. Copies of the "A" Process and "B" Process Applications can also be found on the Federation’s website, www.ussoccer.com, under "Services/ International Games."
Please note: The Federation does not require an application or an application fee for "closed door" games (those games not open to spectators and not televised). For these games, the Federation simply requires a letter, informing the Federation of: (1) the date, time, and venue of the game; (2) the teams involved; and (3) confirmation that the match meets the “closed door” definition. The Federation will, in turn, notify the applicable FIFA member for the participating foreign teams that the match will take place. Should the foreign federation notify the Federation that the team in question cannot participate, the Federation will deny approval for the match.
(A) The "A" Process Application
(1) International Match Application. An "A" Process application for an International Match must be submitted no later than twenty-one (21) days before the date of the intended match by submitting a completed application form with the following items:
(a) Application Fee, as set forth in Paragraph (3), made payable to the Federation; and
(b) A letter from the stadium confirming that the facility is on hold for the date of the event.
(2) All-Star Games. An "A" Process application for an All-Star Game must be submitted no later than sixty (60) days before the date of the intended match by submitting a completed application form with the following items:
(a) Application Fee, as set forth in Paragraph (3), made payable to the Federation; and
(b) A letter from the stadium confirming that the facility is on hold for the date of the event.
(c) Proof that the advertised participants have committed to participate.
(3) International Tournament Application. An "A" Process application for an International Tournament must be submitted no later than forty-five (45) days before the start date of the intended tournament by submitting a completed application form with the following items:
(a) Application Fee, as set forth in Paragraph (3), made payable to the Federation;
(b) A letter from the stadium confirming that the facility is on hold for the date(s) of the event; and
(c)The rules and related documentation regarding the organization of the tournament addressing such issues as mode of competition, referees, discipline, etc.
(d) If one or more teams participating in the event(s) are National Teams from a Confederation outside of CONCACAF, the written approval of the respective Confederation(s) and CONCACAF are required. It is the Promoter’s responsibility to secure these approvals.
(4) Application Fee. Applications submitted within the time set forth in Paragraphs (1) and (2) above must be accompanied by an application fee in the following amount depending upon the status of the participating foreign team (to be determined solely by the Federation):
(a) $100.00 for each foreign non-professional team for each visit to the United States (regardless of how many games are played during their visit).
(b) $100.00 for each foreign professional team or National Team for each game to be played in the United States.
(c) Any application received after the required twenty-one (21) day advance period for International Match requests and after the required forty-five (45) days advance period for International Tournament requests may only be considered by the Federation if accompanied by a non-refundable late fee of $750.00 (in addition to the standard application fee). Payment of the late fee does not guarantee that the Federation will grant permission to host an International Match or International Tournament.
(B) The "B" Process Application
A "B" Process application for an International Match or Tournament must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days before the date of the intended match by submitting a completed application form with the following items:
(1) Application fee of $75.00;
(2) Signed agreement to host the team(s) involved in the International Match or International Tournament; and
(3) Copy of the rules if the application is for a tournament.
Section 4. Processing of Application by the Federation
Once a complete application is received by the Federation, together with the other items set forth in Section 3, the Federation will review it promptly. The Federation will "conditionally" approve the application unless it determines that holding the match or tournament in question would be detrimental to the best interest of the sport.
(A) "A" Process Applications
For "A" Process Applications, the Federation’s initial approval of an application is conditional, and is not deemed finally approved, until:
(1) The applicant has completed and signed an International Games Agreement, which will include a requirement that the applicant abide by the Federation’s Standards for Promoting and Staging an International Match for Which Admission is Charged;
(2) The applicant has submitted the appropriate performance bond, as set forth below in Section 5;
(3) The applicant has submitted an insurance certificate consistent with the insurance terms in the International Games Agreement; and
(4) The applicant has submitted letters from the teams involved confirming their participation in the event.
(B) "B" Process Applications
For "B" Process Applications, the Federation’s initial approval of an application for a tournament is conditional, and is not finally approved, until the Federation has received confirmation from FIFA that it deems the tournament rules acceptable. (The Federation will submit these rules for FIFA approval promptly after receipt from the applicant.)
(C) Foreign Federation Notice
For all applications received and processed by the Federation, under either the "A" Process or the "B" Process, the Federation will notify the foreign federation for all foreign teams listed in the application that the International Match or International Tournament is taking place, that the Federation recognizes the Match or Tournament, and that the team in question will participate. If a foreign federation informs the Federation that the team in question shall not be permitted to play or participate, the Federation may revoke approval of the Match or Tournament.
Section 5. Performance Bond Requirement ("A" Process Only)
Performance Bond Amount. For "A" Process International Games and Tournaments only, final approval will be granted only upon receipt by the Federation of a performance bond in the form of a wire transfer, certified check or cashier’s check approved by the Federation and made payable to "United States Soccer Federation, Inc." in accordance with the following terms:
(A) A bond equal to the estimated referee fees and expenses will be required for Non-admission Matches. No additional bond is required for Non-admission Matches.
(B) For each Match, the bond amount will be the greater of the following:
(1) Tier 1 - $25,000 per match plus estimated referee fees and expenses: Any match involving a foreign Men’s National Team
(2) Tier 2 - $20,000 per match plus estimated referee fees and expenses: All-Star Matches in which any registered player is from a foreign professional club that plays in the First Division of their domestic league; Any match involving a foreign professional club that has participated in either of the last two editions of the UEFA Champions League tournament (the current tournament, if in session at the time of submitting the International Games application, would count as one of the two relevant editions)
(3) Tier 3 - $7,500 per match plus estimated referee fees and expenses: Any match involving a foreign professional club that currently plays in the First Division of their domestic league and did not participate in either of the last two editions of the UEFA Champions League tournament (the current tournament, if in session at the time of submitting the International Games application, would count as one of the two relevant editions); All-Star Matches in which any player is a retired professional player
(4) Tier 4 - $3,750 per match plus estimated referee fees and expenses: Any match involving a foreign professional club that currently does not play in the First Division of their domestic league; Any match involving a foreign Women’s National Team; All-Star Matches in which all players play on domestic amateur teams;
(5) An estimate of anticipated percentage payments that will be due the Federation, CONCACAF and FIFA, subsequent to the match plus estimated referee fees and expenses; such estimate to be at the sole discretion of the Federation; or
(6) Any greater amount that the Federation deems appropriate to ensure the financial integrity of an International Match or International Tournament.
(C) Time Requirement for Submission of Performance Bond. The performance bond MUST BE RECEIVED in the Federation’s office in the form of a wire transfer, a cashier’s check, a certified check, or cash (1) no later than twenty-one (21) days prior to the scheduled date of the first game covered by the request or (2) on the date stipulated in the International Games agreement. Any bond received after this date may not be accepted, and, if accepted, may be required to be accompanied by a $750 late bond fee. Payment of this late fee does not guarantee Federation approval of the International Match or International Tournament. No final approval will be given without receipt of all required bonds (and applicable late fees) due prior to the proposed game(s). If the performance bond is not received by the Federation within the time set forth in this Paragraph, any provisional permission granted by the Federation may be rescinded. The Federation has the authority to revise the performance bond due date at its sole discretion. U.S. Soccer will retain fifty percent (50%) of the bond amount if the event is cancelled within five (5) days of the event.
(D) Conditional Approval. Any approval which is granted prior to receipt of the proper performance bond at the Federation office is strictly CONDITIONAL on receipt of the proper performance bond (together with the late fee, if applicable) in accordance with these regulations. If the performance bond is not received within the time specified in these regulations, any Federation approval is NULL AND VOID, unless the Federation waives the time requirement.
(E) Failure of Promoter and/or FIFA Match Agent to Fulfill Match Obligations. Upon failure of the Promoter and/or FIFA Match Agent to fulfill all obligations to the Federation, FIFA, CONCACAF, or the referees, the Federation will apply all or part of the performance bond to the payment of any or all unfulfilled obligations including, but not limited to the travel expenses and game fees for referees. If the performance bond is insufficient to pay all unfulfilled obligations, the Promoter and FIFA Match Agent shall be liable for any additional unfulfilled obligations, shall hold the Federation harmless for any unfulfilled obligations, and shall reimburse the Federation for any expense incurred on its part in fulfilling the Promoter’s and FIFA Match Agent’s obligations. The Federation may refuse to approve or sanction a game involving any Promoter or FIFA Match Agent that fails to fulfill any obligation set forth in these operating procedures.
(F) Return of Performance Bond Balance. The Federation will return the balance of the bond remaining to the Promoter or FIFA Match Agent after satisfaction of all obligations to the Federation, CONCACAF, FIFA and referees. Any balance remaining from the bond will be returned no later than thirty (30) days from the receipt of a properly completed Federation financial report for the game(s) under Section 7 of the Operating Procedures.
Section 6. Additional Approval Requirements.
(A) Notification. For all applications, the Promoter and FIFA Match Agent will be notified by the Federation whether the request has been approved.
(B) Additional Assurances. In addition to the requirements set forth above, the Federation may in its discretion seek additional assurances in any form that it deems necessary to ensure that the applicant is capable of staging the event or, for applicable matches, is capable of complying with the Federation’s Standards for Staging and Promoting International Matches for Which Admission is Charged. For all-star games, U.S. Soccer will require proof that the advertised participant have committed to participate.
(C) For "A" Process International Matches and Tournaments, the Federation may request the State Association, in whose area a game involving a foreign team is to be played, to appoint a delegate or delegates or may itself appoint one or more delegates to represent the Federation to verify paid attendance. The Promoter and FIFA Match Agent shall recognize the responsibility of the delegate(s) and shall extend to such delegate(s) all of the assistance necessary for such delegate(s) to fulfill his/her/their responsibility.
(D) Promoter will provide U.S. Soccer with a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of ticket purchasers within twenty eight (28) business days after the event. This list shall be provided in an electronic format, as requested by U.S. Soccer.
Section 7. Fees Payable to the U.S. Soccer Federation ("A" Process Only).(A) Two and one half percent (2.5%) of the gross gate receipts of matches involving one foreign team, but not less than $400
(B) Five percent (5%) of the gross gate receipts of matches involving two foreign teams, but not less than $400
(C) Nine percent (9%) but not less than $450, for matches involving a national team
(D) In any International Tournament where fifty percent (50%) or more of the participating clubs are affiliated to the Federation, the applicable percentage of gross gate receipts shall be two and one half percent (2.5%), but not less than $400. If more than fifty percent (50%) of teams are foreign, then the applicable percentage shall be five percent (5%).
(E) In the case of a Double-header match (any event that includes an International Match and a regularly scheduled professional league match [not including pre-season or scheduled exhibition matches] at the same time for which only one ticket is issued), the fee shall be calculated based upon fifty percent (50%) of the gross gate receipts.
Section 8. Financial Report to the U.S. Soccer Federation ("A" Process Only).
For "A" Process International Matches:
(A) Financial Report. A properly completed Federation Financial Report on the appropriate forms signed by Promoter and FIFA Match Agent, along with the itemized stadium accounting shall be forwarded to the Federation with the applicable percentage payment under Section 7. This financial report is due to the Federation within thirty (30) days of any International Match or International Tournament. Any Promoter or FIFA Match Agent failing to submit a timely financial report (along with any monies due) may be fined $100 per day for every day beyond the deadline by which the report is to be received.
The Federation reserves its right to request a stadium accounting directly from stadium authorities. In this event, the Promoter or FIFA Match Agent must notify stadium authorities that the Federation is authorized to receive such accounting directly.
(B) Promoter and FIFA Match Agent are solely liable for compliance with all applicable federal, state and local tax laws in connection with any International Match or International Tournament and agree to defend, indemnify and hold the Federation harmless in connection with the same.
Section 9. Promoter and FIFA Match Agent Responsibilities.
(A) Promoter and FIFA Match Agent shall be responsible for the payment of all fees and expenses related to the International Match or International Tournament.
(B) Promoter and FIFA Match Agent shall be responsible for the teams they are hosting and the conduct of matches in accordance with the rules and policies and procedures of the Federation as outlined herein.
(C) The Federation shall be responsible for the assignment of referees and assistant referees to International Matches or International Tournaments. Promoter and FIFA Match Agent are responsible for the designated fees of game officials assigned by the Federation to International Matches or International Tournaments including, but not limited to travel expenses and game fees.
(D) Neither Promoter, FIFA Match Agent nor any other individual or entity shall use the Federation’s name for speculative or promotional purposes.
Section 10. Standards for Staging and Promoting International Matches for Which Admission Is Charged.
I. Team and Game Official Arrival.
(A) Arrival of Foreign Teams.
The Promoter or FIFA Match Agent shall notify the Federation not later than seven (7) days prior to the arrival of a foreign opponent as to the:
(1) Date and arrival time of the team(s);
(2) The name, address and phone number of the hotel or other accommodations where the team(s) will stay; and
(3) The name(s) of the head(s) of the team(s) delegation.
(B) Arrival of Game Officials.
For all International Matches and International Tournaments the National Referee office will assign referees and shall coordinate with the Promoter or FIFA Match Agent in making all necessary arrangements for travel and accommodation for the game officials. For full International Matches not sponsored by the Federation, the Federation shall notify the Chairman of the State Referee Committee of the State Association where the International Match or Tournament is being played and will coordinate with the Chairman to make all the necessary travel and accommodation arrangements for the game officials and arrange to meet them upon arrival.
II. Day of Game Operations.
(A) The doors to the team locker rooms and game officials’ locker rooms must be able to be locked by the teams or game officials with the assurance that the facilities will be under the protection of the stadium security.
(B) Shower facilities must be available with adequate hot water, soap, and number of showerheads to shower a squad of twenty (20) players, the coach, referees and trainer in fifteen (15) minutes.
(C) The Promoter or FIFA Match Agent will make available a supply of fifty (50) towels to the visiting club or to each club in the case of two foreign clubs, and six (6) for the game officials.
(D) The Promoter or FIFA Match Agent shall provide beverages such as water and energy drinks for the competing clubs and game officials during the game, at half-time and following the game.
III. Player Introduction Procedure.
The two starting teams must enter the field side by side led by the game officials. The substitute players must be in their respective team bench areas at the time of introduction of the starting lineups and may be introduced in name only. The game officials must be introduced first, followed by the starting teams and substitutes. At the discretion of the Promoter or FIFA Match Agent and with the agreement of the participating teams, the substitutes may be introduced from either the playing field or the benches.
IV. National Anthems.
The national anthems of the competing National Teams shall be played prior to the commencement of any match. In all cases, the national anthem of the designated “home” team shall be played last. All players and members of the delegations are expected to show the proper respect for all national anthems. There is no obligation to play National Anthems for club matches.
V. Field Operations Staff.
(1) Field Manager. The “home team” shall designate a field manager who will be wholly responsible for all organization and supervision on the field. His name must be on the schedule of events and times distributed to the visiting club along with how he may be contacted if any additional information or remedial action is required. Among his responsibilities will be:
(a) Provision of required lining and equipping of playing field including goals, corner flags, benches, sidelines, beverages and other team needs. Goals must be secured, including on artificial surfaces. A photographer’s limit line must be placed behind each goal line.
(b) Supervision of pre-game and halftime events and ceremonies to assure that the game starts, and resumes, at the designated times.
(c) Supervision of security forces, ball persons and runners.
(2) Ball Persons. The home team shall designate a minimum of six (6) ball persons who will be positioned two (2) on each side and one (1) at either end of the field.
(3) Runners. The Promoter or FIFA Match Agent will supply the field manager with a minimum of two (2) runners to be at his disposal on the field at all times.
(4) Security. The home team will provide a sufficient number of uniformed security officers to assure that only authorized persons with proper credentials are on the sidelines or in the vicinity of the team bench before and during the game. The security force must also be sufficient to assure the safety of all team members, game officials and club officials when entering or leaving within the stadium, including on the field during the game. The Federation may review security arrangements at any time to ensure that proper measures have been taken.
The Promoter is required to read and review with local law enforcement for the event all the provisions outlined in the FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations:
The field manager will supply each of the visiting clubs with a minimum of three (3) properly inflated game balls for practice and will supply the referee with three (3) properly inflated new official balls for the game. The field manager will check with the referee prior to the game to assure that the field is properly marked, that the goals are in place and secure, that the nets are properly fastened, and that the corner flags are proper and in place. The referee shall make the final decision in all cases as to the acceptability of the game ball and all aspects of the field of play.
VII. Sideline Authorization.
(1) Only authorized persons with proper credentials will be permitted on, or in the vicinity of team benches and along the sidelines. Such authorization will be limited to: players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, team physicians, and staff. Only working photographers may be accredited; such photographers are restricted to the area at either end of the field beyond the photographer’s line. In no case are such individuals allowed on the sideline.
(2) Only those individuals, who are authorized to be on the players’ bench and/or the area adjacent to the field including credentialed photographers, are permitted in this area. This is to be strictly enforced. Strong disciplinary action may be taken should an unauthorized individual with a proper credential create a disturbance.
(3) Cheerleaders, ball persons and mascots must not be positioned within ten (10) yards of the touchlines and goal lines, especially if they are wearing colors which are the same as either of the teams on the field. Cheerleaders must also refrain from positioning themselves near the touchlines.
VIII. Media Credentials.
Promoters and FIFA Match Agents must provide space in the press box for all working press and must ensure non-working media persons do not intrude on the working media. If sufficient space is not available in the press box, a covered area adjacent to the press box must be provided to accommodate the overflow media. The Federation may review the setup for media at any time to ensure that proper level of service to the media is provided.
IX. Press Box.
(1) Security. A security guard or a game staff person must be stationed at the entrance to the press box to check credentials and control press box traffic.
(2) Facilities. If dignitaries of the competing clubs or the Federation or its delegates cannot be properly accommodated elsewhere in the stadium, they will be permitted in the press box, preferably in a section separate from the working press. Owners or management being accommodated in a Press Box must recognize that they are guests in an area in which the media must perform their job. Accordingly, they must refrain from boisterous and partisan cheering and comment on the game.
(3) Refreshments. The Promoter and FIFA Match Agent will make available to the media at no cost to the media and guests at locations in the press box and press lounge, an adequate supply of refreshments.
(a) The home team will at all times have a qualified individual in charge of the press box who will be responsible for:
(i) Having the press box open and functioning no less than one hour before kickoff and until the last working media person has left.
(ii) Arranging the seating sections for both media and guests. Visiting media must have the same facilities and services (including seating) as home media and must be accommodated in the main press box.
(iii) Supplying the media with pertinent game information and statistics.
(b) The public address announcer is responsible for handling general announcements to the public, which have been approved by the press box supervisor. These announcements must be impartial in nature and must not be in the form of a play-by-play commentary during the match. Multi-lingual announcements are perfectly acceptable where appropriate. The public address announcer shall not incite the crowd in any way.
(c) Statisticians and crews are responsible for keeping accurate and complete game statistics, and making them available as soon as possible to the press. A minimum of a two-man stats crew is required.
(d) Runners: The Promoter or FIFA Match Agent should have a minimum of two (2) runners specifically stationed in the press box under the direction of the press box supervisor. They will:
(i) Make sure each member of the media and guests are supplied with adequate food and beverage;
(ii) Distribute lineups, game programs, statistical and other information;
(iii) Coordinate the press box with the field and dressing rooms; field to press box phones or radios must be utilized; and
(iv) Assist in bringing refreshments and information to the press box prior to the game and helping close the press box following the game.
(L) Post-Game Interviews.
The team’s locker room may be closed to the media for a maximum of ten (10) minutes after the team has entered the locker room and the door has been closed. The home team must provide security guards to assist in this procedure if exercised. Thereafter, all players and coaches must be accessible to all accredited members of the media. Teams should remain on site for a minimum of forty (40) minutes after the game for interview purposes.
(M) Complimentary Tickets.
The Promoter and FIFA Match Agent shall at a minimum provide the following complimentary tickets and/or passes for each match:
(1) U.S. Soccer Federation Officials or Delegated Officials: one ticket per delegate.
(2) State Association Representative: minimum of four (4) official passes, four (4) parking passes, and four (4) complimentary tickets will be issued when requested at least one (1) day in advance of the game.
(3) U.S. Soccer Federation Hall of Fame Members: one (1) ticket per person either picked up in advance of the day of the game or at will call. Advance notice must be given to the Promoter/FIFA Match Agent and the Federation. Complimentary tickets provided under subsections 1, 2, and 3 of this section shall total no more than fifty (50) tickets.
(4) Game Officials: seventeen (17) Category 1 or Category 2 tickets (three (3) per game official, one (1) reserve referee and one (1) referee inspector).
(5) Non-Working Game Officials, Friends or Relatives: Game Officials who are not working the game are not permitted in the locker room at any time. The game officials’ locker room is strictly off limits to all personnel, including friends and relatives. No complimentary tickets are required for these individuals.
(6) Visiting Teams: It is customary to provide complimentary tickets for each member of the visiting team party. In addition, official passes should be issued to official visiting delegates. The specific number of complimentary tickets is at the discretion of the Promoter/FIFA Match Agent.