US Soccer has filed a formal complaint with FIFA against Olympique Lyonnais owner Jean-Michel Aulas over player tampering, according to Grant Wahl at SI.
Aulas tweeted the following at Portland Thorns player Allie Long after she scored an equalizer for Portland in a 2-2 tie with Seattle on May 6.
Thorns owner Merritt Paulson was not happy about it at all. Paulson was so displeased, he’s left up the tweet at Aulas instead of deleting it, which American soccer fans will note is his usual custom.
.@JM_Aulas rather than courting players under contract, act with class and bring your women's team to see how they'd do vs the Thorns— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) May 7, 2017
It might seem like some harmless encouragement, except for the very real fact that Aulas aggressively tweeted at Alex Morgan before eventually signing her to a temporary contract with Lyon.
The player tampering accusation coming from USSF and not the Portland Thorns would seem to be a reflection of Long’s federation status, wherein her contract is with the federation, who pay her salary in partnership with NWSL. Inducing a player to break her contract is very much frowned upon by FIFA, who have punished clubs for it before, such as in 2009 when they forbid Chelsea from making any transfers until 2011 and imposed a hefty fine for signing Gaël Kakuta away from RC Lens. (The ruling was later overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the basis Kakuta did not have a valid contract with Lens.)
Now, Aulas did say “next year” but perhaps that still falls within the time frame of Long’s current contract, or goes against an agreement Long has to extend her stay with the Thorns next season. Perhaps it’s not just tweets and Long reported more contact from Aulas to her federation. Whatever it is, it seems USSF is fed up with Aulas and is taking some preemptive action to keep yet another prominent WNT player from leaving NWSL for Europe.