Tottenham Hotspur have pushed back against a claim for solidarity payments made by Redmond, Washington.-based youth club Crossfire Premier over the transfer of United States international DeAndre Yedlin, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
Crossfire contends that it is entitled to a cut of the transfer fee Tottenham paid when it acquired Yedlin, 25, from the Seattle Sounders for a reported sum of $3.71 million in August of 2014. FIFA statutes state that five percent of the fee should be paid to youth clubs that developed the player.
Crossfire asserts that in the case of Yedlin, he was registered with the club as an amateur player during a period beginning in 2006 and ending in 2010, and is thus entitled to a portion of the fee. One source has told ESPN FC that Crossfire is seeking around $100,000 of the fee that was paid to MLS and the Sounders. Crossfire has taken its case to FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) in a bid to receive the funds it believes it is owed.
Solidarity payments are a mechanism by which FIFA aims to compensate youth clubs for developing players. FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) stipulate that whenever a player is transferred prior to the end of their contract, and that transfer involves moving from one country to another -- a "change of association" in FIFA parlance -- then five percent of the transfer fee is to be allocated to the club or clubs that developed the player. The rules also stipulate that when a player signs their first professional contract, the pro club is obligated to pay training and development costs 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.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has long forbidden the implementation of RSTP, however. Among the reasons cited are fears that RSTP violateslabourd labor laws or would result in litigation on anti-trust grounds by various stakeholders, including the MLS Players Association. The USSF has also contended that a consent decree contained in the case Fraser vs. MLS prevented it from enforcing RSTP.
The source told ESPN FC that Tottenham are pushing back on three fronts. Tottenham allege that Crossfire is not a "training club" since its business model -- that of a non-profit in which team fees of other players helped subsidise those who couldn't afford to pay like Yedlin -- doesn't involve investing its own resources and taking a financial risk in order to produce players. This is despite the fact that Crossfire has other sources of revenue including sponsorships and charitable donations.
Tottenham are also alleging that there is uncertainty as to the exact timeline of Yedlin's registration with Crossfire. Each player is supposed to have a "player passport" detailing the clubs that they played for starting at the age of 12, from amateur all the way to professional. Yedlin's passport, issued and maintained by the U.S. Soccer Federation, allegedly states that he was registered with Crossfire for an undetermined period of time between 2008 and 2010, not from 2006 to 2010 as the club claims.
Tottenham asserts that in addition to the discrepancy, there is a general lack of evidence to confirm the exact period of the registration and that the DRC cannot simply take Crossfire's word in terms of when Yedlin was registered. Spurs are contending that the burden is on Crossfire to provide sufficient documentation as it relates to Yedlin.
The final prong of Tottenham's defence is that during the negotiations, MLS told Tottenham that it was the position of the USSF that no claims for solidarity payments could be brought by U.S-based youth clubs due to provisions in U.S. law. And for that reason, no money needed to be set aside for solidarity payments.
Tottenham also claim that they acted in good faith and relied upon representations given by MLS in the negotiations and correspondence between the two sides. Therefore no solidarity payments should be awarded to Crossfire.