Hungover Dispatches from America: US Soccer Legal Troubles Edition

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Futfanatico asked unreliable correspondent GonzoBra, a former court beat reporter for a small town daily, to cover the legal dispute brewing between US Soccer and the women’s team. As per usual, his reporting was untimely, factually incorrect, and offensive. We have edited out most of the offensive parts, but left the grammatical errors because they enhance the entertainment value of this piece. If any.

I.

When my editor Elliott cold-pitched me to write about the US Soccer vs. USWNT legal dispute, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. First, how much cash can I milk from this cheap-ass motherfucker? Second, would I have to fly to some backwaters country like Canada? Third, like seriously how much money can I drab from this commission? Once I got satisfactory answers for the first and third question, I wasn’t really too worried about number two. It dawned on me that the legal dispute was happening here in America, so I could rely on my staple cheap-as-hell and alcoholic-as-water pilsners to keep me loaded and dangerous.

I also had some airline miles on a credit card to use for domestic flights because we all know accounts payable departments reimburse your expenses as quickly as Pirlo sprints. So what could go wrong?

II.

Before we jump into the abyss and some really boring legalese, I have to answer a few pressing questions. Like, folks don’t think I exist or something. And that hurts. Everybody asks: GonzoBra, my favorite “I was there churnalist”, why don’t you have a separate Twitter or Instagram of Facebook or some social media shit? The short answer is: I don’t like to give away content for publicly-traded private companies to make money. If I don’t get paid per retweet, then who is stacking those dollar bills? Also, we know that Twitter is kinda sorta cool because you can have a group conversation on pressing topics, but once you have more than, say, 10,000 followers, you get too many mentions at a time to really respond meaningfully. You’re basically picking your favorite kids and retweeting the elite of the elite.

Watching bros and gals I respect have to do that shit makes me sad. And I know if I started a private Twitter I’d have, like, 50,000 followers within six months, so why bother? All roads lead to ruin, my friend. And profit for Zuckberburg.

Instagram, of course, is another story. Basically, in the early years of my marriage, my better half decided to perform a thorough audit of who I followed. During a somewhat formal conversation that may or may not have resembled a covert CIA interrogation on foreign soil, I came to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was not following people with ties to soccer because of their “sporting” prowess. Like, you and I know that Chavas en tangas is all about the lighting and respective talents of the photographer, with occasional soccer balls used as props, but Mrs. GonzoBra was having none of it. And she kinda had a point.

I have not been on Facebook since my parents aka boomers got on Facebook and ruined it for everybody. Snapchat intrigues me, but I hate it when my favorite dickpics disappear. Once Snapchat corrects that programming flaw, you may see me on there. Until then, you only get me here. Enjoy me while you can.

III.

And now the fruits of the hunt. I had not reported on a legal dispute in, say, two decades, but I recalled more than a few tricks from my days as a beatwriter for a daily newspaper that served a small Midwestern town of 20,000. First, find out the name of the Judge and then the Judge’s wife. Second, find out what days and time she normally goes to the single beauty salon in town. Third, schedule an appointment with your wife for that day/time, go along and pretend to read a magazine, and absorb all that legal gossip.

Sadly, I saw that the initial lawsuit filed by US Soccer a few months ago was filed in the federal court for the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois, which was physically located in Chicago, Illinois. An anonymous source confirmed that there was more than one beauty parlor in the city of Chicago, which kinda tossed a wrench in my plans. I couldn’t simultaneously stake out each and every beauty parlor in Chicago, and I don’t share bylines (unless you agree to do all the reporting, deal?), so what’s a bro to do?

Head to Chi-town, that’s what.

IV.

I’m always split on investigative reporting – like, part of me loves to read the dirty deets on “the hunt.” Who doesn’t love to see how dirt is dug up? That’s why Hollywood churns our P.I. flicks at an alarmingly high rate. On the other hand, please keep your FOIA sob stories to fucking yourself. Boo hoo, a public information officer was having a bad day and stuck your request under a stack of paper on his/her desk and forgot about it. This is neither tragedy nor interesting.

My attorney pal who used to get me records on the cheap had been disbarred recently, so his PACER login was a nonstarter. I thus had to use all my charm and cunning to try and get a peek at some court records for that first lawsuit (will get to EEOC stuff later alligator). I would need to enter the belly of the beast.

+++

The Everett McKinley Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago is the ugliest slab of marble one can imagine. Basically, some modernist architect got a hard-on for faux-Soviet Union concrete with an emphasis on right angles and total disregard for windows and natural lighting. When you read 1984 in middle school, you thought of this place without having ever been there. If a ground army ever invades America, I am holing myself and my family up in this shithole. No way snipers can get a clear shot from nearby buildings. I guarantee it.

So like I hung out near the Dirksen (Diggler) concrete-slab for a full morning to get the lay of the land. Lots of people enter and leave the courthouse. Many of them are staff and have cool badges and can skip the metal detectors. Attorneys have a frequent visitor badge and can also breeze by security. I also heard some people say that the cafeteria in the basement resembles a dungeon but serves excellent coffee at a reasonable price. Don’t eat the sandwiches, though. They come pre-made in plastic bags and most importantly soggy bread, my friend. Soggy bread.

I knew that legally I could not lie to the officers who served as pedestrian foot traffic control at a federal building. Well, maybe I could, but I didn’t want to risk it while sober. When they asked me why or what I was doing to get into the courthouse, I had to say something plausible and stretch the truth a bit. Thus, I read up on a pretty juicy criminal trial that was happening on the tenth floor. I told the guards that I was a member of the public with an interest in criminal law and wanted to see the trial.

And it worked!!!!!!

My victory, though, was short-lived. I was hungry and they only had sandwiches in the cafeteria, so I ate soggy bread. Second, and most importantly, I kept scanning the building guide plaque beside the elevators to see where the court records were. Like, back in the day, the courts kept huge boxes of paper records for everything. I needed to get into that vault to try and uncover the dirty deets on this US soccer lawsuit.

Finally, I caved and asked one of the always-busily-moving court staff. Where are those records and boxes and stuff? She laughed in my face. Apparently, all records are online now. No more papel. That stupid “Pay per search” PACER online website – for attorneys only – was my only hope to get at the goods anymore. Studying for the LSAT, taking the LSAT, and graduating from law school in three years would probably take me well past the relevance shelf-life of the story.

Fuckers.

V.

I thought about whoring some favorable press to the new hard-as-balls attorney behind the US women’s push for more money in exchange for some documents and details, but Elliott said no. Of course, it wasn’t a question of principle. In my amended story proposal and budget request, I rightly guessed that the attorney for the US women was a NYC baller and thus I would have to wine and dine this mofo at a five-star eatery in Manhattan. And no we could not go cheap on the wine any Merlot younger than, say, fifty years would not open this prick’s lips.

And here’s where thing fell apart: Elliott said “why don’t you just email him.” Can you believe the nerve? Like, why don’t you just email him. I am an artist and know how to cultivate sources. If you are a possible source, do you say yes to an email or an invitation to get tipsy (or drunk) at a five-star restaurant in Manhattan? Like, this makes sense. Those words. Read them a second time. Put yourself in that attorney dude’s shoes. Hello.

VI.

So, from a reporting standpoint, the story fell apart. However, Elliott refuses to pay kill fees. He’s also a pretty lazy editor who stops halfway through most of my pieces, so I sneak in my jabs near the end. He did tell me to talk about the new EEOC complaint though. Fucker always reads the conclusion so I cover my ass that way too. Take notes, young scribes [Surreptitious wink].

VII.

Blah blah legal experts and bored trial attorneys have cast doubt on the viability of the recent USWNT EEOC claim, but the message has been sent: these gals are playing hardball. More interesting, the leaking of public info about US Soccer revenue and budgets has been an even bigger black eye. The media buzzed on those details like vultures around a dead carcass.

Bottom line: just when you think women’s soccer in the US is ready to take off, a legal dispute tosses a wrench into things. This is not unlike the men’s game at the start of the 20th century. However, this time, instead of the MagicJack dude being a royal dick, it’s about women getting paid what they’re worth. That’s cool, even if they had to hire and pay an attack dog attorney to squeeze those pesos from Sunil’s tightfist.

Wouldn’t you do the same?

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