The <i>Other</i> Football: Super Bowl forcing youth soccer league off its pitch

Hosting a major sports event is complicated business. Hosting cities and town councils often see the dollar signs the event brings – fan spending, league stipends and so on.

But with this boon comes inconvenience in terms of increased traffic and in the pushing around of the little guys.

A category that appears to include the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League (SCYSL), which is being bumped off its field by the city council and the NFL, according to the group’s president. You see, its stadium is adjacent to the rather larger one where the San Francisco 49ers play and which is hosting the 2016 Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

The NFL has been granted access to the soccer stadium to hold its half-time show and to use as a media center, which could prove to be a big deal if care isn’t taken in how the whole thing is handled.

Tino Silva, president of the SCYSL, spoke exclusively to Fox News Latino.

“They are going to be putting plywood down on the fields,” Silva said. “If you put plywood down on the grass, the grass dies. We [would be] getting back a field that’s dead. And it’s hard to grow grass in the middle of the winter, even in California.”

Silva added, “Since the game is six weeks away, [if] you plan to replace the fields, wouldn’t you have a contractor lined up? We don’t have a contract with anyone to fix it.”

Silva says the league has brought its concerns to city council, which negotiated the rights to the use of the fields with the 49ers and the NFL, but they haven’t gotten answers.

The 49ers have a practice facility adjacent to the soccer park that, Silva feels, could be used for some of the more damaging Super Bowl events to spare the soccer fields. A previous version of this column stated that the practice facility wouldn’t be used at all, but Roger Hacker, a communications executive with the 49ers, contacted FNL via email after publication and said that the facility “will be used for a variety of purposes by the NFL.”

As far as Silva is concerned, it’s the city council’s job to look out for the 700 or 800 kids possibly affected by the field situation, but they were more than a bit lackadaisical in how they did it.

“You would think [they] would say, ‘Hey, you can use this, but you cannot destroy it. We have a multimillion dollar soccer facility here.’” Silva said. “We are wondering why all the city council members aren’t … collectively saying, ‘Be a good neighbor, but protect your assets.’”

“We aren’t saying we don’t want the NFL to use the soccer park,” Silva stressed. “We know this is a big event, and we are not trying to be unreasonable. We are simply asking to be fair.”

An attempt to get a comment from the NFL went unanswered at publication time, but later Hacker stated that, “This is not a case of the NFL coming to the city at the last minute and asking for more land,” noting usage for the soccer park was provided to the league by the Santa Clara City Council back in 2013.

He added, “All involved parties are committed to returning this public property in the same or better condition following the Super Bowl and will do so by completely replacing the natural grass playing surfaces of the soccer complex.”

“The 49ers and the NFL are partnering to replace the two natural grass fields at the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park at no cost to the city of Santa Clara," a Dec. 8 joint statement from the team and the league said. "Installation of those fields will begin following the completion of Super Bowl related activities.”

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From the wires

Honduras' foreign minister says ex-President Rafael Callejas has left the country aboard a private plane with the intention of turning himself in to U.S. authorities investigating corruption and kickbacks in FIFA, soccer's scandal-plagued governing body.

Arturo Corrales said Monday that Callejas had made the decision on advice from his lawyers, but would not say exactly where or when the ex-president would turn himself in.
The United States previously requested Callejas' extradition.

Callejas served as president from 1990-94 and is a current member of FIFA's television and marketing committee.

He was one of about 20 soccer officials indicted on charges with bribes and kickbacks in a 92-count indictment.

Callejas was president of Honduras' soccer federation from 2002 to 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.