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.”