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MLS Players Union Speaks Out Against Illinois Workers' Comp Bill

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21:  An official MLS match ball is seen on the pitch during warm-up prior to the MLS match between the Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center on March 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Dynamo and the Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2017

Bob Foose, director of the Major League Soccer Players Union, said Wednesday the union will join the NFL Players Association's fight against legislation in the Illinois State Senate regarding workers' compensation for professional athletes.

Empire of Soccer's Christian Araos provided comment from Foose:

Very simply, it's just a money grab by the owners, the teams. It's not going to save the taxpayers any money. It is going to reduce the workers compensation benefits for athletes who get hurt on the job which is close to all of them and the money that is saved will just be kept by the teams. It's an attempt by the teams to shirk their responsibilities under the workers compensation laws and to treat athletes differently than any other worker. There's no real justification for it other than that.

According to the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh and Brad Biggs, Illinois Senate Bill 12 would lower the age at which athletes are entitled to wage differential awards as part of the Workers' Compensation Act.

Under the current law, athletes can continue receiving payment until age 67. Senate Bill 12 would set the cutoff at 35 years old, with the bill's proponents arguing few athletes continue playing beyond age 35, so the present standard is too burdensome on teams.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told the Spiegel & Parkins Show on 670 The Scorein Chicago that he and the union would advise players against signing with the Bears should Senate Bill 12 pass.

Foose's opposition to the law appears to stem from its potential effect on Chicago Fire players.

ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle reported in May the median salary for an MLS player was $117,000, and the average salary was $316,777.33. To put that in perspective, the NFL has the next lowest-average salary, which is more than six times that amount ($2.1 million), per Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen.

According to the union's most recent salary figures, 15 of the Fire's 26 players earn less than the median salary.

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