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U.S. Youth Teams File Lawsuit for Player Development Fees

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Vice Sports reported on Friday that a class-action lawsuit had been filed on the behalf of American youth soccer teams looking to receive a percentage of the transfers of players they had developed. The clubs that developed DeAndre Yedlin; Clint Dempsey; and Michael Bradley, Crossfire Premiere of Redmond (WA); Dallas Texans (TX); and Sockers FC (IL) respectively, are suing MLS. They argue that MLS needs to follow a FIFA rule that stipulates that developmental clubs receive a portion of the transfer fee if a player they developed is sold during their first contract. As a process of the lawsuit, the clubs have also named Yedlin, Dempsey, and Bradley to the suit.

A class-action lawsuit is where a group of people sue on behalf of a certain "class" of people that has some how been hurt. In this case, the youth clubs are suing with the claim that they represent the youth clubs who have produced players who go on to play in MLS and then are sold for a transfer fee. Under Article 21, Section VII of FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, developmental clubs are entitled to a certain amount of compensation.

If a player 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.

In most places around the world, developmental clubs get a cut out of the transfer fees for players that they produced. That is not the case in the United States.  When players are drafted (Dempsey and Bradley or signed to a Home Grown Player contract (Yedlin), they sign with the league, not the individual club. The United States Soccer Federation has rules that block MLS from paying these dues. USSF has long refused to pay the clubs those players grew up and learned the game with. This lawsuit looks to change that. If it is successful, it would mean that youth institutions in the United States would have a potential alternative source of income, hopefully weakening the pay-to-play system.

There isn't an obvious result for this case. In addition to MLS, USSF, and the individual clubs fighting about the transfer money, the player union, MLSPU is threatening a counter-suit, further complicating the issue. Whatever happens, we, the fans of course hope that it leads to a better climate for the sport.