SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/Labor Agents

No progress for USSF and U.S. men’s team union

The U.S. Men’s National Team Players Association and the United States Soccer Federation remained deadlocked in a labor dispute at press time, with the union’s top official putting much of the blame on the USSF’s support of Major League Soccer.

For the current four-year World Cup cycle, the USSF has proposed increasing the players’ pay by 38 percent, while the union is pushing for a 108 percent increase. That equates to the USSF, which paid players $10.4 million during the 1999-2002 quadrennium, offering to increase the players’ compensation to $14.4 million for the current quadrennium, while the union is asking for $21.8 million.

Jim Moorhouse, director of communications for the USSF, said that if the union’s salary demands were met, the federation would have to cut about $7.4 million of its player and facility development initiatives.

But Mark Levinstein, acting executive director and outside general counsel for the union, said the problem is that the USSF is earmarking too much of its $30 million operating surplus for the development of MLS. Half of that money, according to Levinstein, is being “pumped back into” MLS — $10 million on stadium development initiatives and $5 million more for the MLS reserve league.

Moorhouse reiterated that the USSF is a nonprofit company that invests in the future of the sport by emphasizing player and facility development. Some of that development, he added, included providing money for training centers in Carson, Calif., and Frisco, Texas — both of which also house MLS stadiums.

MLS officials declined comment for this story.

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