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MLS Must Fix Labor Problems

David WilsonSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 14: First-round draft pick Amobi Okugo (L) of the Philadelphia Union and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber pose for a photograph during the 2010 MLS SuperDraft on January 14, 2010 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The threat of a strike looms large over Major League Soccer and if the players strike, the blame must lie at the feet of MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

For soccer in the U.S. to continue to grow, the league must fall in line with FIFA guidelines and regulations. I understand why the league wanted to own all the contracts but that time has passed.

Use a salary cap and let players negotiate with the individual teams, like every other league in the U.S.

Players must be allowed to move to other MLS clubs when their contract expires. Today even is a player’s contract is unilaterally terminated by a club, that club continues to hold such player’s rights and he is prohibited from signing with another club in the league.

Europe has the Bosman Rule and in the U.S. we had the Curt Flood baseball ruling. A league cannot sign players to contracts that contain multiple unilateral one-year options that may only be exercised by the league.

The salary cap needs to increased so that players are the bottom of the rung can make enough money to live on. Professional soccer players in MLS should not be making $18,000 a year.

Raise the salary cap to $3 million (it was $2.3 million last year) for this season. Raise the minimum salary to $25,000 at least.

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This is not in the collective bargaining agreement, but MLS needs to get with the FIFA schedule for international games. It is cheating the fans, and cheapening the game, when you play MLS games on FIFA-designated weekends for international games.

This is a World Cup year and interest in soccer in the U.S. has really increased in the last year, because of the success of the U.S. international game.

Labor negotiations are always difficult, but soccer cannot afford any sort of work stoppage this season. Garber has to make peace with the players.

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