Transfer of Christian Pulisic Again Raises Specter of Solidarity Payments

Shortly after Borussia Dortmund confirmed the transfer of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea for a fee of €64 million, Will Parchman noted in a tweet that PA Classics, the youth development club that in part developed the starlet, stands to lose about $740k in solidarity payments.

Setting aside the fact that there is just about no way that PA Classics doesn’t make a claim, this announcement and subsequent feedback once again brings the issue of training compensation and solidarity payments into stark relief.

I’ve written at length on this issue, starting with who exactly was opposing solidarity payments and training compensation. I also wrote two pieces for The Athletic on the DeAndre Yedlin case filed by Crossfire Premier with FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (still pending a ruling). But for those who haven’t been following along as closely, I figured I’d outline through various documents I’ve obtained how this came to be, in chronological order.


1997: The Fraser consent decree is entered, which allows the USSF to exit the Fraser v. MLS lawsuit. Afterwards, MLS and USSF interpret this order to mean they cannot participate in a solidarity payment/training compensation system, though the decree really has nothing to do with those issues.

2008: With the Dallas Texans submitting a request for solidarity payments, the USSF threatens the youth development team with sanctions should they pursue the claim.

This appeared to put a chill on youth development teams pursuing such claims for the better part of a decade. At least no cases were publicized in that time.

2014: Emails reveal how the USSF/MLS work together to prevent solidarity payments/training compensation payments. Continuing into 2014, USSF and MLS worked together ensure that these payments were not being made, as Lisa Levine (USSF) and Brian Bliss (Chicago Fire) collaborate on the issue. [Redactions to prevent disclosure of player]

2015: Crossfire Premier begins to pursue a claim for solidarity payments for the transfer of DeAndre Yedlin from MLS to Tottenham. Spurs originally recognize the claim and request the proper documentation to facilitate the payment.

2015: As Crossfire pursues their claim for the Yedlin transfer, both the USSF and MLS continue to argue that solidarity payments and training compensation are illegal under the Fraser consent decree..

2015: Tottenham, having originally indicated they were open to payment of the fees, states they will no longer make the payment to Crossfire.

2015: Tottenham confirms that the Yedlin transfer has been made, including any assumed solidarity payments.

2016: Even with the concerns outlined by Crossfire, Spurs essentially blow off the youth development team, telling them to take up their concerns with MLS.

2016: The MLSPU threatens to sue youth organizations* who pursue solidarity payments/training compensation.

*It should be noted that I have since confirmed that the MLSPU will not sue youth development organizations who pursue such claims.

2018: Sunil Gulati continues to claim that the MLSPU will sue.

2018: As part of the sale of Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich, it’s confirmed that a solidarity payment will be made to his youth club.

2018: Tottenham files a defense to the Crossfire Claim, arguing that the USSF record keeping was so negligent, they shouldn’t have to pay (or they should be able to go after MLS). Neither MLS nor USSF have ever filed a defense in this case.

2018: Don Garber says that MLS needs to be on board with a (limited?) training compensation/solidarity payment system.

And there we are. I spoke with a source yesterday, and they are expecting a ruling any day now, which basically lines up with what they thought after Tottenham submitted all of their paperwork. So stay tuned, as a blockbuster ruling could be at hand any time now.

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