Skip to main content

The New York Cosmos in Hiatus and The North American Exception to Sporting Integrity

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, Malet Street

Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Public Seminar Series is back! The next Seminar will be given by David Kilpatrick, Professor of English Literature and Sport Management at Mercy College, New York.

This event will take place in person at Birkbeck College, Malet St, London WC1E 7HX

Attendance at this event is free, however, registration is required if you would like to attend. 


In this presentation, Dr David Kilpatrick, the official historian of the New York Cosmos football club, utilizing the case study of the history of the Cosmos as a professional club in North American professional soccer leagues, will illustrate the impact of the “closed-league” model of North American major leagues on the development of football/soccer in North America.

David explains: “North American soccer’s most legendary club, the New York Cosmos, rose to global prominence in the 1970s with an all-star cast of the golden generation’s most fabled footballers. Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, and Sócrates were among the global superstars to play for the club, which won five North American Soccer League (NASL) titles before it went into hiatus in the mid-1980s. When the club returned to competition in 2013, the landscape of soccer in the United States was radically transformed, with the single-entity Major League Soccer (MLS) established as a condition of hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Despite winning the revived NASL (sanctioned as a second division) three times, the ostensible soccer pyramid meant not only no promotion to the top-flight, but when the league had its divisional sanctioning revoked by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in 2017, the club would need to find a new league to compete. While the club and league continue to pursue antitrust litigation against the USSF and MLS, the team has not played since 2019.”

“With the Cosmos once more on hiatus, struggling for survival, at stake is the North American franchise model for league competitions. While the 2020 Court for the Arbitration of Sport decision against an appeal for implementation of promotion and relegation in US Soccer was a setback for efforts at soccer reform, the swift rejection of the proposed European Super League was a victory for those who would preserve the principle of Sporting Integrity. While that battle was easily won, the war is far from over, being waged on another front across the Atlantic. As the football world will turn its attentions to North America for the 2026 World Cup, those concerned for the future of football in Europe would do well to recognize common cause with those protesting the closed league franchise model prevalent in North American sport, perhaps the greatest threat to the future of the global game.”


David Kilpatrick is Professor of English Literature and Sport Management at Mercy College, where he is the Director of the Sport Management Programme. He is the Club Historian of the New York Cosmos and the Technical Director of Soccer Operations for the Mohawk Valley Warriors. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature and MA in Philosophy from Binghamton University and his MSc in Sport Management from the State University of New York at Cortland.

David is the author of Writing with Blood: The Sacrificial Dramatist as Tragic Man (EyeCorner) and Obrigado: A Futebol Epic (Beadle), and the editor of State of the Field: Ideologies, Identities, and Initiatives (Routledge). He serves as a director of the Society for American Soccer History and on the editorial board of Soccer & Society. He has commented on soccer for BBC World Service, One World Sports, India Today, Madison Square Garden Network, The New York Times, and other media outlets.

Contact name: