FIFPro, the global organization that represents soccer players around the world, is sticking its nose into the contract negotiations between MLS and its players union.
Both sides are very tight-lipped about whatís actually on the table as they try to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, but officials Iíve talked to around the league have assured me that they cannot see any work stoppage coming in 2010. The league is too small and simply has too much to lose by a strike or lockout. Both sides know it.
But FIFpro wants MLS to give up central control of contracts, stop the trading of players like the other Big Four North American leagues ó by the way, trading of players like the NHL or NBA does is illegal in most countries outside of the U.S. and Canada ó and, well, function like a little English Premier League or La Liga.
ďIt (MLS) ignores FIFA rules in several respects. For instance: there are players without a guaranteed contract, player contracts are routinely terminated by the league, MLS acts as a cartel, there is no freedom of movement for any MLS player, and virtually any player can be transferred to another club in the league without his consent,Ē read a statement from FIFpro.
Sigh. Yet another European organization trying to tell the ignorant Americans and, by default, Canadians, what to do.
To its credit, FIFA has stated it wonít get involved in the MLS CBA. But, FIFA has butted in at other times.
Remember FIFA president Sepp Blatterís suggestion that MLS should have a fall-winter schedule that resembles the major Euro leagues?
He has his sights on MLS when he decreed no league should have more than 18 teams.
Blatter, who Iíd love to see at just one MLS game, has never enjoyed the tropical breeze off Lake Ontario in January. Or the nice, snow-free climates of Salt Lake City or Denver in February.
Others complain about the MLS playoff system, that our little league should just go to a straight table.
Real easy for Europeans, who somehow find ways to bankrupt teams that sell out stadiums and have millions of TV viewers, to tell MLS what to do. Real easy for people who play in leagues where you bus to all your games and sleep in your bed every night to lecture us about divisions and playoffs.
Los Angeles Galaxy general manager and coach Bruce Arena put it in an interesting way before the MLS Cup. He said the league embraces the world game, but in a unique American way.
North American fans like playoffs.
We like a championship game.
ďNo one cares what the rest of the world thinks,Ē he said, in very blunt, very Arena fashion.
Sorry, Europe, but your system has left Liverpool FC teetering on bankruptcy. It has created a culture where fans are pressuring managers to spend them into championships, even when the clubs donít have the cash. Itís destroying football in Italy. It has ruined the game in Eastern Europe.
So, if the MLS doesnít want to embrace your brazen overspending, good for it.
Itís easy for players and officials in the self-appointed Mecca of football to tell MLS what to do. How satisfying, for once, to be able to get all that anti-Americanism out of their systems.
Hey, all MLS fans. Cheer for the team of your heritage when it plays at the World Cup. But, at the other times or, if you donít have a horse in the race, take the U.S. team into your hearts. For the pride of all the MLS players or MLS grads on the team.
As a statement that OUR league is good enough.