Pay
us!

• Local clubs chide MLS for not granting training compensation fees • Call for JFF, CONCACAF intervention

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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LOCAL clubs are up in arms over what they deem to be exploitation of their players by the United States Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs regarding the FIFAstipulated training compensation fees.

They plan to seek the intervention of the local body, Jamaica Football Federation, as well as the regional body, CONCACAF. Last Thursday, the MLS drafted three Jamaican players — Romario Williams (Montreal Impact), Sergio Campbell (Columbus Crew) and Oneil Fisher (Seattle Sounders), but Campbell’s dream of playing professional football is hanging in the balance as the MLS and his local club, Portmore United, are in a stand-off.


Campbell, 23, who represented Portmore United in his formative years, was drafted from the University of Connecticut.


But he has been unable to put pen to paper on the contract because of what Portmore United claim to be "bullying" tactics by the MLS.


Clive Marshall, general manager of Portmore United, said he is very disappointed with the current position of the MLS, who are demanding that the local club not pursue the training compensation fee.


"We believe demanding that we waive our FIFA rights would have farreaching negative impact on all local clubs," Marshall told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.


"Hopefully, MLS will standardise a compensation schedule so local clubs do not continue to experience this unnecessary strain every year," he added.


"We are not holding back any player. But it is unfair. It's about time the Jamaican clubs benefit," Marshall reiterated. Training compensation is defined in the FIFA statutes and regulations, yet it remains the subject of continuous club disputes in the global game," argued Marshall.


Chapter VII, Article 20 of the FIFA Statutes and Regulations states that: "Training compensation shall be paid to a player’s training club(s): (1) when a player signs his first contract as a professional and (2) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday.


The provisions concerning training compensation are set out in Annex 4, Article 5 of these regulations.


"Accordingly, the first time a player registers as a professional, the training compensation payable is calculated by taking the training costs of the new club multiplied by the number of years of training, in principle from the season of the player’s 12th birthday to the season of his 21st birthday.


In the case of subsequent transfers, training compensation is calculated based on the training costs of the new club multiplied by the number of years of training with the former club.


Accordingly, Portmore United claim they are entitled to US$7,500 for the former national Under-20 captain, who was also a member of Jamaica’s winning Caribbean Cup team in 2010. He is also the nephew of current Reggae Boyz skipper Rodolph Austin.


According to Marshall, Jamaican clubs have had difficulty receiving fair value for the talent they nurture and produce, a point fully supported by Rudolph Speid, president of Cavalier SC. He, too, claims to have had problems securing that fee from the MLS, having nurtured Andre Lewis, who was drafted last year by the Vancouver Whitecaps, as well as this year’s number three draft pick Romario Williams.


"We have written to them asking about training compensation for a particular player and we haven’t heard anything. We have another player in the draft again this year," said Speid.


He continued: "It is a joke thing how the MLS are behaving. We have a president of CONCACAF and a president of the JFF and they must get involved and get us our money." According to Speid, some US-based agents are also to blame with what they tell the local players before they enter the draft, so "clubs have to give them up for free".


"Because we don’t want to blight a youth’s future and that’s why we don’t mind not getting any transfer fee. But all we are saying is give us the training compensation that FIFA says. Pay it," Speid reiterated.


"I think it’s a good thing Portmore is doing and I am calling on the president of CONCACAF and JFF because the MLS is exploiting the countries of the Caribbean more than anywhere else," argued Speid.


Over the last two decades many Jamaican players have entered the MLS — Andy Williams, Damani Ralph, Wolde Harris, Shavar Thomas, Omar Cummings, Jermaine Taylor, Je- Vaughn Watson, Lovell Palmer, Dicoy Williams, Alvas Powell, Damion Lowe — to name a few.


Only last year, goalkeeper Andre Blake of Sporting Central Academy was drafted number one by the Philadelphia Union. Ainsley Lowe, president of Sporting Central, said he was initially given a "non-offer" by the MLS for Blake, but things worked out well in the end. "I went and presented Sporting’s case in person.


We had a reasonable, sensible and amicable resolution," Lowe said, without divulging too much. Clyde Jureidini, general manager of Harbour View FC, one of the most successful clubs in transferring players overseas, is in total agreement with stance taken by Portmore United.


"MLS doesn’t want to pay any compensation to anybody. The training club legally should get compensation, that’s a standard requirement, but the MLS has a different criteria and doesn’t pay and doesn’t want to discuss those sorts of compensations," noted Jureidini. "But in principle, Portmore United is correct.


 


All the local clubs should be paid a training compensation. We are in total agreement," Jureidini added. With a few past successes like Ricardo Gardner, Ricardo Fuller and Rodolph Austin to England, Jamaican clubs maintain hope that the big payday may one day arrive, should they manage to stay afloat.


Other than local corporate support, one of the mechanisms that will assist clubs to stay afloat is receiving training compensation or solidarity payments for the talent which matriculate abroad.


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