A claim for solidarity payments by a U.S. youth club involving the 2014 transfer of DeAndre Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders to Premier League-side Tottenham Hotspur has encountered another delay, according to a document obtained by ESPN.
Redmond, Washington-based youth club Crossfire Premier is attempting to recoup around $100,000 from Yedlin's transfer, which FIFA statutes stipulate the club is entitled to since it helped develop the player. According to Yedlin's player passport, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, he was registered with Crossfire from 2006-10.
The case was supposed to have been heard by FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) back on March 7, but in a letter to Lance Reich, the attorney representing Crossfire, the DRC stated that multiple members of the five-person panel slated to rule in the case recused themselves due to "certain personal circumstances."
"In view of this, it was not possible for the fundamental principle of equal representation of players and clubs to be met," the letter stated. "Therefore, the matter had to be withdrawn from the agenda."
This is not the first time the Yedlin case has been delayed. The case was also scheduled to be heard by the DRC last October, only for Tottenham to file arguments stating why the case should be dismissed. The cases are now scheduled to be heard before the DRC's next meeting in Zurich, Switzerland on April 11.
"We are obviously disappointed to have our case pulled from decision yet again, and the late nature of the recusals really calls the procedure here into question," Reich said via email."
The same panel had recently ruled against two other U.S. youth clubs making similar claims. Sockers FC Chicago was attempting to receive a cut of the transfer fee from Michael Bradley's move from Roma to Toronto FC in 2014. In a similar vein, the Dallas Texans were trying to obtain payment for Dempsey's transfer from Tottenham to the Sounders in 2013. In both cases the amount of money being sought exceeded $100,000. While the DRC said both clubs had grounds to have their case heard, their respective claims to receive solidarity payments were rejected.
"We certainly will ask the DRC to vacate and withdraw the Bradley and Dempsey decisions as they were heard by that same panel on the same day, and all the appeals are generally related to each other," Reich added. "It's hard to see how whatever grounds for recusal may exist in the Yedlin case wouldn't exist in the other cases. Tottenham is in the Dempsey case, as is the MLS in all cases."
In the aftermath of the 1995 Bosman decision granting free agency to players at the end of their contracts, FIFA introduced new Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). Included in those regulations are what it calls solidarity payments and training compensation to compensate youth clubs for the cost of developing players.
Solidarity payments are paid whenever a player is transferred to another club prior to the end of their contract, and that transfer involved moving to another country -- a "change of association" in FIFA parlance. Five percent of the transfer fee is paid to the youth clubs responsible for the player's development between the ages of 12 and 23.
The rules also stipulate that when a player signs their first professional contract, or is transferred to a club in a different association, the pro club is obligated to pay training and development compensation to the youth clubs that developed the player between the ages of 12 and 21. (The Yedlin case only pertains to the payment of solidarity payments.)
However, the U.S. Soccer Federation has long forbidden the implementation of RSTP. Among the reasons cited are fears that RSTP violates child labor laws or would result in litigation on anti-trust grounds by various stakeholders, including the MLS Players Association.
The USSF has also contended at times that a consent decree contained in the case Fraser vs. MLS -- which stipulated that MLS would not require a transfer fee to be paid for out of contract players -- prevented it from enforcing RSTP, though it was no longer using that argument.
In recent years, a handful of U.S.-based clubs have sought relief from FIFA in order to receive the RSTP-mandated funds, a move that the USSF has resisted.