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MLS- Seattle Sounders

Tampering charge holding up Schmid move to Seattle

Sigi Schmid 2 (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                             Photo by ISIphotos.com

If you are wondering what exactly the hold up is with regard to Sigi Schmid and his expected move to the Seattle Sounders, especially now that he has parted ways with the Columbus Crew, sources have revealed a tangled mess involving Columbus, Seattle, a tampering charge and a league that has to take care of the mess.

It has been reported in recent weeks that the Columbus Crew had filed tampering charges with MLS against Seattle for alledgedly courting Schmid to be the Sounders new head coach before his Crew contract had expired. What multiple sources around the league are telling SBI is that not only did the Crew file the tampering charge, but MLS did find evidence of what it considered unauthorized contact, which has opened the door to a mess the league is in the process of trying to clean up.

According to sources, MLS determined that Seattle technical director Chris Henderson had spoken to Schmid about the Seattle job while Schmid was still Columbus head coach. The result was a fine imposed on the Sounders and Henderson's formal removal from Seattle's coaching search committee (despite the fact that Henderson and Schmid have had close ties for two decades, with Schmid having coached Henderson in college and MLS). The issue might have ended there, but sources say Columbus has used that ruling to try and secure compensation from Seattle.

The Columbus Dispatch repoted earlier this week that Schmid had a non-compete clause in his recently expired contract with the Crew, a clause sources say the Crew contend was violated because Schmid was in contact with Seattle before his contract expired. Now Columbus is apparently seeking compensation from Seattle in order to keep the Crew from pursuing the issue further, leaving MLS to arbitrate the mess.

If this scenario is true (and there have been rumblings about an MLS tampering ruling against Seattle for more than a week), the whole situation has turned what should have been an amicable departure into a contentious one.

"Something has occurred that has sort of made my decision for me," Schmid told the Dispatch. "It's in the league's hands"

So what should we expect? It appears pretty clear that the Crew is intent on getting compensation from Seattle and looks to have the grounds to ask for some. Do I think this mess will keep Schmid from joining Seattle? Probably not. I would expect MLS to make a ruling pretty soon that both sides can live with, most likely in the form of allocation money or cash which Seattle will have to give the Crew.

What do you think of this potential situation? Should Seattle be punished harshly for tampering? Is Columbus being petty with a coach who led it to a championship? Do you think the Crew have a gripe? Do you think it's silly that a coach winding down the end of a contract can't communicate with a potential future employer?

Share your thoughts below.

67 comments
  • 505anthony

    I’m actually surpised by this. I thought the Sounders courting of Fats Schmid was so obvious by now and has been going on so long that it would have had to be legal. If it’s otherwise than, sure, Crew have a point. But were they whining about so much else up until now that they had forgotten to whine about this? I mean, really.

    Like

  • sammysounder

    Crew doesn’t deserve a thing!

    Exhibit A: Sounders drafting players Sigi’s interested in doesn’t mean that Sigi chose them. If you and I can figure out which players he likes than how hard is it for Hanauer and Henderson? They might even like similar players! Drafting players that Sigi likes is proof of nothing.

    Exhibit B: Crew moving to file discovery claims does not prove that Sigi passed information to Sounders.

    Henderson and Schmid have been friends for awhile. Henderson should have avoided Schmid for awhile, but we paid the fine.

    Crew requesting compensation is just whiny, petty and vindictive.

    Stupid Crew.

    Like

  • Northzax

    second Round pick in 2010 or a minor allocation. Regardless of actual competitive damage, you have to punish based on potential competitive advantage. As an example, take betting on games. 95% of players would, I am sure, bet safely on games, on themselves to win, etc. Gambling wouldn’t affect performance except perhaps to increase it. The problem is that you have to deal first and foremost with that one player who did allow gambling to negatively affect competition (see: Serie A every other year it seems) you also can’t really tell which is which, did he have a bad day, or did he tank? Did he miss that pk on purpose? People miss pks, who would have thought that Jaime Moreno would miss at home against a rival? Who can tell? You can’t, so you have to assume the worst (if you have evidence of gambling, of course. This is all totally hypothetical) same with tampering.

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  • JesseMT

    Well, the Sounders do deserve some punishment, and they’ve already paid a fine. I don’t see why C-bus deserves compensation.

    If there is compensation, hopefully it is cash and not allocation money. It wouldn’t be fair to give a competitive advantage to the Crew; if this was precedent, I think coaches in the future would try to make themselves get tampered with just so they get a little cap room.

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  • AndyinSeattle

    Sterlinho, I don’t hate the Sounders. I actually don’t personally know anyone that followed the USL Sounders as much as I did. I end up posting a lot on here when it comes to this issue because the two teams I follow closely have had some drama recently.

    Fair play is fair play. I think there is an issue for the Crew to take here. I also think Seattle deserves to have Sigi coach for them and signed very soon.

    Why would someone change allegiances just because they move? I’ve watched Crew soccer since age 13 and I’m going to jump ship because I changed my address?

    Have fun supporting your new team.

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  • AndyinSeattle

    Sterlinho, I don’t hate the Sounders. I actually don’t personally know anyone that followed the USL Sounders as much as I did. I end up posting a lot on here when it comes to this issue because the two teams I follow closely have had some drama recently.

    Fair play is fair play. I think there is an issue for the Crew to take here. I also think Seattle deserves to have Sigi coach for them and signed very soon.

    Why would someone change allegiances just because they move? I’ve watched Crew soccer since age 13 and I’m going to jump ship because I changed my address?

    Have fun supporting your new team.

    Like

  • HIncha Tim

    I blame the league partially for this. The very important expansion draft for Seattle was less than a week after the final and still within the confines of the “last season” so Sigi was still in the last dieing moments of his contract with Columbus. Seattle obviously would have liked the incoming coach to choose which players he would like so they needed to sign him to a contract quickly. The league should have put more space betweeen the end of the season (and when contracts expire) and the expansion draft.

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  • HIncha Tim

    I think the MLS is partly at fault here. They scheduled the very important expansion draft less than a week after the final. This made the draft effectively part of the “last” season and not the coming season, so Sigi was not free. Seattle obviously wanted something with Sigi worked out quickly so he could be the decider on the expansion picks for the team he would be leading.

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  • Jonny R

    Look, folks, tampering rules are present in every professional sport in this country and the penalties are often cash fines or the loss/exchange of draft picks. In many cases, it’s considered tampering even to mention publicly that you’d like to sign/trade for a player currently under contract to another team.

    Some good examples of controversies in recent years (not all of which were eventually considered tampering): 49ers/Lance Briggs; Red Sox/JD Drew; the mess with the Vikings and Brett Favre this summer; just about every time Hank Steinbrenner opens his mouth.

    In one of the more humorous incidents lately, after the Cavaliers played a road game at Madison Square Garden during which the main attraction was the possibility of the Knicks signing LeBron James two years from now, Ben Wallace joked that the whole city of New York was tampering.

    While this whole business would probably seem odd those who follow primarily European soccer, MLS’ tampering rules are really par for the course.

    It doesn’t matter that Columbus had no realistic shot of resigning Sigi; Seattle evidently screwed up and will most likely pay a fair (and justly earned) penalty. In all likelihood, they won’t care too much.

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  • Jason

    To Indie FC, who wrote:

    I definitely understand the reason for such a rule, but I’ve never agreed with its constitutionality, since it interferes with ALL American’s right to seek employment whenever and wherever it might suit the individual. I suspect that if someone took this one too the Supreme Court, it would be ruled invalid.

    Everyone pretty much knew Sigi was leaving Columbus. Long before there were Seattle rumors, it had already been strongly rumored that Sigi wasn’t coming back and was going to seek something on the West Coast.

    Okay, I said my piece. Now pay the fine and let’s hope it is just a fine, because if they take a player it will be the start of a long and VERY ugly rivalry. Columbus needs to stop profiteering and take the high ground here–they were NEVER going to have Sigi back.”

    I suspect you have no legal training whatsoever.

    Non-compete clauses are perfectly legal and have been court tested MANY times.

    1) There is no right to work in the US Constitution. Why don’t you read it some time and try to find it? If there was, you’d have a Federal Constitutional issue every time someone got fired.

    2) As long as the non-compete clause is reasonable in duration and scope, it is enforceable. As Sigi’s non-compete clause lasted (apparently) only for the length of his contract, there should be no problem.

    All it did was say that, in effect, for the duration of the contract, he can’t work for anyone but the Crew. So, for instance, if he walks (you can’t make someone work when they don’t want to, that is prohibited by the 13th Amendment: no more slavery) he can’t coach for another team for the contract’s duration.
    Now, if it lasted 10 years after the contract was up, there would be a problem.

    There is no issue with his right to work, because the only reason he would be out of work, was because he quit. I’m assuming that the clause would be terminated if he was fired by the Crew.

    3) You don’t seem to know much about the right to contract. You can freely negotiate away almost any right. What do you think mandatory arbitration is all about?

    End of rant.

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  • daisy

    Just another example of a former PLAYER stepping into a business organization (with no business background to back it up) and not understanding and abiding by the business rules of the organization and league they work with. That is what I take issue with. Seattle’s management group should have known better or advised Henderson better in order to make sure he is up to date on business protocol within a professional organization. This should be a good learning lesson to Henderson and also the rest of Seattle’s management group. The Technical Director should have bene advising the GM and it should have been the GM that was handling the actual discussions.

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  • Luis

    Well, this gives me a reason to hate a team well before I get to attend a Sounders home game. And I don’t even care if my disdain of Columbus is reasonable.

    As they say in NASCAR, if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’

    Like

  • SwedSoccer

    Just posted that Crew and Sounders reached a deal regarding Schmid. Allocation money and cash.

    Like

  • SwedSoccer

    Just posted that Crew and Sounders reached a deal regarding Schmid. Allocation money and cash.

    Like

  • SwedSoccer

    Just posted that Crew and Sounders reached a deal regarding Schmid. Allocation money and cash.

    Like

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