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MLS Players Union calls youth compensation lawsuit ‘baseless’

Photo by Winslow Townson /USA Today Sports
Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

A unique scenario has unfolded, as three United States youth clubs filed a class action lawsuit on Friday against the MLS Players Union, as well as three current and former MLS players.

As reported by Vice Sports, the Players Union, Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin and Michael Bradley are all involved in the lawsuit, which was initiated by youth clubs the Dallas Texans, Crossfire Premiere and Sockers FC. The three youth teams have reportedly sued in order to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars that stemmed from the players participating, including training fees.

The youth teams claim to be owed compensation after Dempsey, Yedlin and Bradley each moved to Europe throughout their professional careers after beginning in MLS. Dempsey played for the Dallas Texans during his youth days, before playing in the Premier League with Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.

Yedlin came up through the Crossfire Premiere system before signing with the Seattle Sounders. The U.S. right back currently plays for Tottenham.

Bradley has since returned to MLS with Toronto FC, however, the veteran midfielder spent time in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach, as well as Serie A’s Chievo Verona and Roma.

All three clubs are citing Article 21, Section VII of the FIFA rules, which stipulates,”If a professional is transferred before the expiry of his contract, any club that has contributed to his education and training shall receive a proportion of the compensation paid to his former club (solidarity contribution). ”

U.S. Soccer has previously denied such claims in regards to youth clubs collecting fees, and has declared that MLS, NASL and other professional leagues in the U.S. follow those rules.

In response to the claims made by the clubs, the MLS Players Union released a statement on Saturday.

“The FIFA system that these clubs are seeking to exploit would be immensely damaging to the development of soccer in the United States,” Executive director Bob Foose said. “By filing this lawsuit against all players, even before FIFA or U.S. Soccer has acted, these youth clubs have revealed their true colors. Their focus appears not to be on the development of players, but instead on ensuring themselves a piece of the action when a player makes it professionally. Parents should take notice. We will aggressively defend ourselves, our members and all players against this baseless suit.”

LA Galaxy goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who serves as a member on the MLSPA’s executive board, called the situation “frivolous and untimely.”

“It is unfortunate and sad that these supposedly non-profit organizations have chosen to sue us,” said Dan Kennedy, a member of the Players Union’s Executive Board. “The Players Union is the players’ organization, and this lawsuit is frivolous and untimely.”


  1. Legal issues aside, why shouldn’t US youth clubs receive compensation for training players who go on to professional success (and are transferred for big fees)?
    I have read countless complaints about youth development in the US, about the low level of coaching expertise, about the reliance on pay to play and much more. Wouldn’t sharing some of the transfer fees with youth clubs be a step towards correcting some of thes alleged weaknesses?

    • Exactly. Not to mention – this is the way the rest of the world does it. When Double Pass was brought in by US Soccer to audit their development systems, the fact that youth clubs don’t receive transfer compensation here was something they immediately reported as a massive flaw.

  2. Actually, Bob Foose, if these clubs win their lawsuit, it would be a huge plus for player development in the U.S.
    Clubs would benefit financially from developing professional players rather than relying on pay-to-play to cover their expenses. The current player development system does not incentivize clubs to produce professional caliber players.
    Sorry, MLSPA and U.S. Soccer, but I side with the plaintiffs.

  3. You got to love how these guys love the law when they want to put money in their pocket but hate the law when it’s time for them to ante up and pay up .

    Is the article behind cited valid or lawful?

    If the FIFA rule which is being cited in this case has not been fulfilled, then why not?

    • The lawsuit, while not frivolous, is doomed to fail. There is only a tenuous relationship at best between the players union and the plaintiffs. he players were all amateurs at the time of their “training” with the youth organizations. If they were under 18, they could not signa legally binding contract and even if they did, it would be a simple contractual lawsuit, bot a class action, so I see all three players being dismissed as defendants.

      The enabling organizations that would adopt the FIFA statutes regarding training compensations and solidarity fees, ARE NOT being sued.(the MLS and USSF) They could not be forced to comply with the FIFA regulations as it would tread on the anti-trust guidance given to the MLS when they prevailed in the anti-trust suit, Fraser vs MLS, that essentially approved the “hybrid” formulation of the MLS.

      As the suit was filed in US District Court, is will be heard under US Law, not international or Swiss, and the US Courts do not give a fig about FIFA regulations (and they would be considered experts in this by now) So only US law and precedents are actionable.

      I doubt this lawsuit will prevail for the plaintiffs, it is a Hail Mary, and they are hoping to force movement on this issue through the courts. But reading the claim I can see some questionable tenants and it has some major deficiencies.

      Even the declaratory judgement they are seeking is kind of iffy and normally those are slam dunks at the worst. But even a favorable ruling in the Declaratory phase would not force anybody to pay anybody anything. The MLSPU will not be alone with this, The USSF and the MLS are sure to file briefs with the Court outlining all the problems with this suit. The MLS lawyers are pretty sharp and their breif will be the most fun to read if it even gets that far.

      While compensating a club for training fees might be considered a good idea, the money they are talking about is ridiculous, and show no basis in reality.

      • Even the plaintiffs lawyer said the players were only named as a legal technicality and they will be dropped as Defendants ASAP. I generally agree with your analysis although, of course, US Courts can apply foreign law if it is applicable. Haven’t really followed the details of this case so I don’t have much more to add.

  4. None of these youth clubs are professional clubs. They do not field teams at any level of professional soccer in the US. Lawsuit over.


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