Saturday, July 12, 2008

Major League Cheapskates?

One of the things we've heard consistently about SuperLiga is the million-dollar cash prize. Supposedly, the winning club would get a million and the players would split a bulk of the prize money.

The MLS Players Union, however, just released a statement to the contrary. Seems like splitting up a million evenly only applies to Mexican clubs.

Apparently, if an MLS team wins, its players will split 15 percent of the purse. Here's the statement in its entirety:

In response to recent media inquiries regarding the prize money for the SuperLiga tournament, the MLS Players Union has the following comments:

MLS has consistently touted that the winner of SuperLiga will win a $1 million prize. The implication in this tagline is that those who win the tournament take home $1 million. In reality, however, that statement is true only for the Mexican players.

MLS is misleading its great fans. What has not been revealed by the league is that its New York office has unilaterally set its own bonus structure for players, who will receive only a small fraction of the $1 million. On top of that, the league has gone even further by prohibiting its teams from providing their own bonus pool for their players, despite the fact that this right is protected under the league’s CBA. The Union has filed a grievance regarding this issue, which will be arbitrated later this year.

As a result, if an MLS team wins SuperLiga the players on that team won't split $1 million. Instead, they will receive only 15% of the prize money. This puts MLS players at a significant competitive disadvantage as the Mexican clubs are not operating under the same rules. Indeed, it is our understanding that the players on last year’s winner Pachuca split the entire $1 million prize amongst themselves.

Given the time and travel requirements and injury risk for players, the prize money at stake (which MLS has consistently touted in the press), and the revenue generated through home games, it is entirely reasonable for players to expect a larger bonus pool. The Union and the players participating in this tournament believe that SuperLiga is a great tournament and hope that it will be around for a long time. It’s a shame that MLS doesn't pay its players – the persons responsible for making the tournament exciting – their fair share of the proceeds. Their refusal to do so has left the players with a bitter taste in their mouths as they enter the tournament.

Quotes from the Union:

Bob Foose, Executive Director of the Union: "There are great fans in MLS and this could be a great tournament. Unfortunately, so far the tournament is not what MLS would have you believe – there is no $1 million prize on the line for MLS players."

Eddie Pope, the Union's Director of Player Relations: "This is a tough part of the season and these kinds of international games are extremely difficult on players. We all know that they are fighting just as hard to win this prestigious championship for their clubs as the Mexican players. Therefore, I, along with the players, find it difficult to understand why they should be content with receiving a smaller portion of the prize money in comparison to their opponents.”


Todd said...

Good story Luis. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's shadier than most shady MLS rules.

Jim said...

Luis, what does MLS have to say about this. Probably something like the rest of the money goes to the travel costs of the team or some lame excuse like that.

L.B. said...

Hopefully there will be some MLS suits out at the game tomorrow so we can ask them about this. The league might put out something later today or there may be some league reaction coming out of Houston or DC tonight. Whatever the case, I'm guessing they have to try and do some sort of damage control.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

l.b., this is just another example of corruption in soccer. MLS figures it can get away with this excrement because it treats its players like indentured servants. And why shouldn't MLS do this, since soccer players have become more show ponies who bring in revenue and serve to "market" and "brand" the sport than human beings who are playing one of the most taxing sports on Earth? Just look at the number of "tournaments" that have started over the last few years.

Yes, I know the European players make beaucoup bucks but a lot of players (in fact, I'd say the majority) don't.

I hope the MLS players' association goes on strike. I hope this costs Garber his job. Describing this scenario as bovine excrement is an insult to bovine excrement.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

One more thing: Fans who don't already have tickets shouldn't try to get any. Boycott SuperLiga because of this.

CACuzcatlan said...

This was known about last year. I'm glad the union is finally making a big deal out of it. I hope it forces MLS to change how it distributes the prize money.

I think the excuse I heard last year was that MLS didn't want the SuperLiga winner to get more prize money than the MLS Cup winner.

jon e said...

Lame. You know, I like watching MLS games. But MLS HQ seems intent on making themselves unlikeable through stupid, inexplicable rules. So now, on top of the idiotic discovery system and the weird allocation rules for returning Nats that seem designed primarily to keep Brian McBride out of MLS, we have the MLS being too cheap to let the players get the bonuses they earned. There's money for the MLS in ticket sales, money in television rights, money in sponsorship. If an MLS team wins, the $1m should be for the players.

shawn said...

what the mls players can do is refuse to leave the locker rooms right before the games start to force the issue. this would put enormous pressure on mls execs to immediately resolve the issue or not have the tournament.

bmantx said...

If I am the players union, I am patting myself on the back right now. Isn't this exactly the same deal as last year? I don't remember the outrage then. Funny what a well placed story can do. I believe the Pachuca players got a better deal. $350k out of 1M. But even they didn't keep the majority. BTW, judging by the crowd I am seeing in DC tonight, don't hold your breath on the boycott thing.

bmantx said...

LB, below is what Grant Wahl wrote on 08.30.07. It still makes MLS look like cheapskates, but thats nothing new. It's just not a new story.

"There was a lot of talk about the $1 million prize offered to the SuperLiga's winning team, but here's something odd: While the Pachuca players said their portion of the winning pot would total $350,000, MLS had already mandated that the Galaxy players would only receive $150,000 of the cool million had they won the game. I'm told that one reason MLS gave was because it didn't want the SuperLiga-winning player pool to exceed the player pool that goes to the MLS Cup winners (which is $165,000)."

Jim said...

Why shouldn't fans sue MLS for false advertising? They or SUM tout that the prize is 1 million dollars. As a fan that made the tournament exciting and probably was one of the reasons that drew fans originally. We never realized that the tournament was actually going to be good. Knowing now that MLS and SUM get the balance, makes me think about funny accounting practices played out by companies on Wall Street.

Gene said...

I think this is outrageous behavior for the MLS. Not only is it false advertisement, but it also deprives the players (many of whom aren't making that much to begin with) of their rightful take. Some of these guys have to live on 12 or 17K per year in large cities.

I'd love to hear the league's explanation for this crap.

papa bear said...

@bmantx: I remember reading that article last year and was shocked.

I have no problem with them wanting MLS CUP to be more important but they could do that by, oh I don't know...raising the prize money for that? How hard would it be to get a trophy sponsor or a trophy presentation sponsor to throw in some more cash for MLS Cup?

Letting the FMF teams take the full prize and undercutting your own league is just DUMB.

OSweet said...

Moral hazard alert:

Game theory would predict that if the final is a matchup between one Mexican team and one MLS team the players should collude to ensure they get the larger player pot, i.e. the Mexican team wins.

Players from Mexican team offer X dollars to MLS team's players to ensure former's victory; X would exceed bonus MLS player would get for winning game.

This could explain why Abel Xavier's penalty kick last year was aimed at the Home Depot Center's tennis court.