Dempsey, Bradley, Yedlin at center of U.S. Youth Clubs Lawsuit

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER.

by Deny Gallagher

Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and DeAndre Yedlin are at the center of a class action lawsuit presented by three U.S. youth clubs in an effort to recoup training and solidarity fees.

As first reported by Vice Sports, Crossfire Premiere, the Dallas Texans, and Sockers FC are suing the Major League Soccer Players Union in addition to the trio. The lawsuit hopes to set a new precedent to help youth clubs receive a piece of the transfer fees for players making the move to professional academies and clubs.

The prosecution is citing Article 21, Section VII, of FIFA’s rules on transfers, which states: “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.”

Since the 1998 ruling in Fraser vs. MLS antitrust case, which helped establish the league as a single entity, the U.S. Soccer Federation has used the business model as a reason to disallow youth clubs from collecting training fees. Even with the evolution of USL and NASL, this precedent has remained unchallenged until recently.

The MLS Players Union has been in opposition to the training and solidarity fee collection campaign for some time. MLS Players Union head Bob Foose told Sports Illustrated that financial compensation restricts player movement, and in turn, hurts player development.

The issue came into question during the transfer of Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders to Tottenham last year. Crossfire Premiere petitioned FIFA’s Executive Committee citing the aforementioned article in FIFA’s transfer rules and received permission to pursue to case in the American legal system independently from soccer’s governing body.

The three clubs released a joint statement regarding the players cited in the case: “The US Youth Clubs had to name the players, Dempsey, Yedlin and Bradley, as well as the defendant class of players, solely for a legal reason to maintain the Complaint. Our clubs have no desire to, in essence, sue their own kids and don’t really believe the players are needed here to resolve this, but the law is what it is. The US Youth Clubs have asked the MLSPU to stipulate that the players are not needed to maintain this action and if they agree, the US Youth Clubs will immediately drop the players.”

The full legal brief can be read here.