The 20-member board of directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation meets today and Saturday in Orlando, Fla., and the biggest item on the agenda concerns approval of a contract that would enable Team America to operate in Washington this season.
Howard Samuels, chief executive officer of the North American Soccer League, said yesterday that an investor, whom he declined to name, has agreed in a contract to back the team for the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Sources say that the investor is Robert Lifton, a New York financier.
Team America, to be composed of native-born players, would serve as the U.S. national team for World Cup Olympics and junior competition. It also would compete as an NASL franchise, playing its home games at RFK Stadium.
Although Samuels said some USSF board members may question some details of the contract, he doesn't "think there are any serious problems. But you're dealing with a volunteer structure . . . and this is the official national team on which they have the right to approve the final contract."
Asked what chance he thought the contract has to be approved, Samuels said, "Eighty-nine percent."
But two sources in the soccer community, both of whom requested anonymity, said that approval is far from certain.
One said the deal was put together too hastily and that the various parties involved have yet to meet. He called the negotiations "shuttle diplomacy." The other said the deal is being complicated by politics and "anyone who thinks he can predict the outcome (of the vote) is foolish."
Samuels said that if a contract is approved, details of Team America, its investor and its administrators, would be announced at simultaneous press conferences here and in New York.
Samuels said he has selected the team's general manager should the plan be approved. He confirmed that the person is Beau Rogers, former general manager of the NASL's Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale teams, now a consultant to NASL franchises in Montreal and San Jose.
The team would be composed of players from the North American, Major Indoor and American professional leagues and from colleges and high schools. Samuels said earlier the team would train in Florida before opening the season here. It also would play against international competition at various sites in the United States.
Samuels said that Gordon Bradley, coach of the past two NASL franchises here, would be involved in the team's operation. But Bradley said nothing is definite and he is still talking to league officials.