ONTARIO, Calif. /ScoopCloud/ -- The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) received support from the U.S. House of Representatives Soccer Caucus this week to help highly talented players be granted visas to play in the United States. Professional soccer players from around the world are currently being denied entry into the United States despite the clear intention of Congress to make sure professional athletes are able to enter the country.
In 2019 the MASL had 76 players with active P1 Visas competing and contributing to the overall competitive caliber of the league, today there are only eight players with active P1 Visas. With this shift many talented individuals have had to return to their native countries, many after establishing themselves as esteemed members of their communities.
The MASL represents the highest level of professional indoor soccer in the world and therefore draws top-tier players from across the globe including many stars of international play. Teams need to be able to recruit the very best the soccer world has in order to maintain the fast-paced, technical and exciting games fans and sponsors love.
The U.S. House of Representatives Soccer Caucus and co-chairs Darin LaHood (R-IL 18th District), Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd District), Don Bacon (R-NE 2nd District), and Kathy Castor (D-FL 14th District) have stepped in and are urging the Department of Homeland Security to fix the problem. The Caucus has sent a letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging Homeland Security take immediate action to fix this issue.
This problem is causing havoc for professional soccer players and their families as many of them count on this income to be able to not only support themselves in the United States but be able to send money back to their families in their own country. In addition, many of these players have been in the United States previously under visas and were great citizens on and off the field. Many of these professional soccer players give back to their communities in the form of visits to hospitals, schools and teaching soccer clinics to young and under privileged children.
Claysson Azevedo De Lima, a Brazilian national, has been in the United States on P1A status since first signing with the Ontario Fury (now Empire Strykers) before the 2017-18 MASL season. After leading Ontario Fury to the Ron Newman Cup Finals during the 2020-21 season, Claysson was named "Goalkeeper of the Year." In August of 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) renewed Claysson's P1A status as an internationally recognized athlete, however, in June 2023, that status was revoked by USCIS and Claysson currently finds himself unable to play professional soccer in the United States.
Specifically, USCIS determined that the MASL is not a "major sports league," and therefore Claysson is no longer deemed to be an internationally recognized athlete coming to the United States to participate in competitions with distinguished reputation(s).
The MASL joins members of the U.S. House of Representatives Soccer Caucus in calling on Homeland Security Secretary Mayorcas to help with this situation. Our league, its fans, coaches, ownership and most importantly our players from around the world are just looking for the same protection to MASL players that has been extended to players in other major sports leagues.
About Major Arena Soccer League:
The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) is the highest level of professional indoor soccer, featuring teams stretching across North America, from coast to coast in the United States and Mexico. The MASL's players originate from over 30 nations, representing the best talent from across the globe. Learn more at: https://www.maslsoccer.com/
The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) received support from the U.S. House of Representatives Soccer Caucus this week to help highly talented players be granted visas to play in the United States. Professional soccer players from around the world are currently being denied entry into the United States despite the clear intention of Congress to make sure professional athletes are able to enter the country.
Related link: https://www.maslsoccer.com/
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