Youth soccer: San Diego Surf fights county cease-and-desist order

San Diego Surf Soccer Club has pledged to open up checkbooks if needed to fire legal penalty kicks against county COVID-19 enforcement.

San Diego Surf Soccer Club argues that the county isn’t following science nor is it equitably enforcing orders.

San Diego County and Surf Soccer Club have traded volleys in an escalating conflict over their organized youth activities. A county cease-and-desist order went out soon after a nearby homeowners’ complaint went out, followed by a report on KUSI Channel 10 news.

The television station continued coverage of the conflict. But the initial Tweet and Youtube video on the issue was deleted. The reports also segued from emphasizing the organization’s violations of health regulations to saying Surf was non-compliant but at the same time succeeded in keeping players safe.

San Diego Surf earned accolades as one of the nation’s most successful youth soccer organizations. The fact that U.S. Soccer had to abandon their development academy early last year amplifies the impact of San Diego Surf and other strong youth programs.

MLS quickly moved in to fill some of the voids. But without robust organizations like Surf, there’s a chance some talent might never be nurtured.

San Diego County published COVID-19 guidelines, effective February this year. This document briefly addresses outdoor recreation, mostly deferring to state recreation guidelines published July 2020. These guidelines acknowledge that face coverings might not work in some activities, but don’t let anyone off the hook for physical distancing.

So the county has sent an inspector on several different days to Surf activities and on Feb. 17 issued a cease-and-desist order to the organization. The soccer club responded that they are following science and protecting their players, as well as those of other clubs.

Surf further alleged that neighborhood opposition to youth sports at the adjacent Polo Fields Del Mar is driven by some homeowners who only want to see equestrian activities. They identify one of those homeowners as the Channel 10 anchor who originally brought the story to air.

Their response on the date of the county order was to offer to get out their checkbooks to pay for defense. They maintain that their organized activities represent the gold standard in safety protocols, standing up for youth, and their overall health.

Participation in sports promotes keeping kids from unhealthy depression, San Diego Surf believes.

They also reported activities that signaled unequal enforcement. Elsewhere in the county, they found ongoing soccer games with referees, baseball games with uniforms and umpires, passing-league football games, and in gyms – volleyball and basketball.

So the recent order represents unequal enforcement.  And it seeks to curtail vital youth development and advancement of soccer culture.