Friday, January 16, 2015

Effects of changes in FIFA regulations on US soccer

Recently FIFA has taken action on two different items that could have a major impact on how soccer in the United States and Canada are handled. The first being the introduction of "Club Licensing" in the CONCACAF region.

FIFA’s Club Licensing System is based on five key criteria: sporting, personnel and administrative, financial, infrastructure and legal. These criteria aim to safeguard the credibility and integrity of club competitions while improving the level of professionalism within the football family and promoting transparency in the finances, ownership and control of clubs.


What is not known is how these changes will effect MLS and it's single entity structure (READ MORE ABOUT THE SINGLE ENTITY STRUCTURE HERE). With the "clubs" actually being league owned outlets ran by owner operators of Major League Soccer LLC., will it meet the requirements to continue on in it's current fashion under these new FIFA regulations? As of right now that question has not been answered, but it is easy to see why some are starting to wonder if this structure will meet the requirements of transparency at the "club" level.

FIFA recently addressed "3rd Party Ownership" of players contracts as well (READ FIFA'S ANNOUNCEMENT HERE). This issue could also prove to be very problematic for MLS as these two quotes in Liviu Bird's article on show.

“It’s a fantastic market. Everybody has their eyes now on the U.S. market,” Marcos Motta, a Brazilian lawyer and member of FIFA’s working group on third-party ownership, said in a phone interview. “I think they need to have a major restructuring of the contracts in the U.S. not only regarding international players because FIFA, they disregard the local law if there were an international dispute.”
“By definition, I guess the structure of MLS would be third-party because — again, by definition — the players are owned by the league, and also with the clubs, you have to go through both,” he said. “I’ve done quite a few transfers into the league and also out of the league, so it’s basically just an extra voice in the room where you have to agree with both the club and the league, and there are percentages that get split between the two.”

With every players contract being owned by MLS, having each owner operator having a say in player transfer decisions and with the splitting of payment and receiving of transfer fees among the two MLS/Owner Operator parties it would appear that MLS meets the requirements of being called "3rd Party Ownership".

The big "IF" from these two recent FIFA announcements is... If they do end up breaking the single entity structure of MLS, what will that do long term to soccer in this nation? Would this ending of the single entity structure then pave the way to an Open Pyramid with Promotion and Relegation? I would love to hear your comments below or use the hashtag #ProRelForUSA on Twitter!

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