Garber: NASL's Canadian domestic rule a 'violation of U.S. law'

Image (2) Don-Garber-Getty-Images-600x410.jpg for post 60582

Just a short while after talking up Canadian Designated Players as a focus for MLS, commissioner Don Garber had some choice comments about the new NASL rule regarding Canadians as domestics on U.S. rosters.

Earlier this week, the NASL announced that all Canadian players would be counted as domestics on all teams in the league, including those based in the U.S., a move that prompted praise from the soccer community, but drew the ire of commissioner Garber.

“It’s a violation of U.S. law,” said Garber at a media roundtable in Vancouver. “We’ve looked at this issue since we launched teams up here in Canada.”

“In the years to come it’s going to be a non-issue, but U.S. law is such that we cannot discriminate against one nationality and give certain employment opportunities to Canadians that we don’t provide to Hondurans and Brazilians and representatives of any other nationality,” he said. “I’m mindful of its impact on how people view it up here.”

MLS also unveiled a rule change regarding Canadian players as domestics, instituting the new Canadian Generation Adidas program that would allow players in the program to be counted as domestics on any club.

With the NASL rule change, MLS becomes the only league not counting Canadians as full domestic players. The close partner league of MLS, the USL, also employs a rule similar to the NASL. However, Garber believes the approach chosen by MLS will ultimately prove correct, stating that the issue would “resolve itself.”

“The rule change that we enacted is a step in the right direction,” Garber continued. “Our estimate is 40 to 50 per cent of the players this year that are playing in Canada would qualify as domestics because they’ve come up through our academy systems.”

  • Cracker Jack

    “In the years to come it’s going to be a non-issue, but U.S. law is such that we cannot discriminate against one nationality and give certain employment opportunities to Canadians that we don’t provide to Hondurans and Brazilians and representatives of any other nationality,”

    As far as I know there is no MLS team playing in Honduras or Brazil.

    If I understand correctly, by having US players considered “domestics” in Canada, it is Canada that is discriminating Hondurans, Brazilians or any other nationals. I therefore suggest that Canadian teams can have unlimited international roster spots so they’ll stop positively discriminating US soccer players…


  • Michael Schwartz in Philly

    I could be completely wrong, but don’t a lot of Euro leagues count players with European passports, not people of just one specific country. If we took a similar approach couldn’t that help if we fill up MLS and USE with the best North and Central Americans, not just citizens of the US. I don’t know what impact this would have on developing a deeper American pool though.


    • beto

      ya but you may have noticed that there are some very different immigration laws around North America compared to the EU

      i assume that MLS is doing everything that is legally possible, and are in close contact with their counterparts in the NHL – who absolutely are doing everything possible! if NASL have found a loophole that would be incredible.


  • Stephen Gradijan

    I see no reason why stating that “Each country that has a team in our league shall not have a quota counted against their players due to nationality”, or something similar, is a rule that somehow violates US law stating that “we cannot discriminate against one nationality and give certain employment opportunities that we don’t provide to representatives of any other nationality,

    This smells like Garber being a protectionist jerk.


  • Northzax

    Yeah, it is. I refer you to title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that plainly bans discrimination in employment based on national origin. If you are legally entitled to work in the United States, your employer (with a few national security exceptions) cannot discriminate based on where you hold citizenship. The current MLS foreign player restrictions are a collectively bargained restriction on the number of work visas MLS will sponsor, that’s why they can be traded, they belong to the League, not the individual teams. Once a team has a spot to use, they can use it on any foreign player (defined as anyone who is not: a US Citizen, a legal permanent resident (green card) or has refugee status. It’s pretty simple, really, as has been held up by federal courts as recently as this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephen Gradijan

      So MLS could simply have unlimited sponsorship of Canadian visas. End of story; where there is a will there is a way.


      • Northzax

        What part of ‘discrimination based on national origin’ did you miss? Canadian work visas are no different than Mexican work visas, or Russian work visas.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Stephen Gradijan

        Title 7 of the civil rights act “prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin”.

        Now the question then becomes, does limited sponsorship of visas count as employer based discrimination? If it does, then MLS is currently breaking the law. If not, then my proposal doesn’t violate the law. Pick one.


      • Panda

        Treating Canadian players as domestic (the same as American players and green card holders) would be privileging the Canucks over other nationalities (excluding green card holders) which do not get to be treated as domestic. Canadians playing in the U.S. are foreign players the same way Italians, Swiss, Germans, Liberians… are.


  • yankiboy

    “Drew the ire” of Garber? If he feels that passionately about it then I guess he’s going to lean in on the USL.

    I mean, you don’t want to be partnered with an organization that is in violation of US Labor Laws for YEARS, right?

    But despite that fact several MLS clubs launched and operate “two” teams.

    Just sayin’…


    • JCC

      It honestly sounds to me that Garber is just concerned that MLS being the only league that doesn’t count Canadians as domestics will put pressure on MLS to do the same.


  • Old School

    Canada is a huge country. Sincere question: why don’t they have a domestic league of their own in any sport (outside of football)?


  • two cents / lowercase letters guy

    how do other sport leagues such as nhl, mlb deal with this problem?


  • two cents / lowercase letters guy

    this is why I was shocked when the league created (or permitted) chivas usa. I mean, they can all wear chivas uniforms but hello we still have labor laws. you can’t just say “we only hire mexicans” or “we prefer to hire mexicans” or “white guys get fewer minutes here” or anything of the sort. unless I misunderstood but in the very beginning I thought it sounded like that (the reinfuerzos are coming, etc.)


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