USA Lockout Continues as National Team Players Reject Arbitration

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Players rejected the U.S. Soccer Federation's offer to send their labor dispute to arbitration and instead proposed on Monday that mediation be used in an effort to get the regulars on the field for next month's World Cup qualifier at Trinidad and Tobago.

Players objected to the USSF's strict rules for the arbitration which allowed for only a contract running through 2006 and placed limits on what could be in each side's proposal. Players who want a deal running through 2010 say that after mediation unresolved issues should be submitted to arbitration.

"The USSFs win-lose proposal would not help anyone no matter what the arbitrator ruled union head Mark Levinstein said in a statement. "The arbitration proposal was completely unacceptable."

Under the old contract 25 players earned $200543 each at the 2002 World Cup. For World Cup qualifiers players receive a minimum of $2000 per game and up to $6000. Players make $2000 to $5150 for exhibitions depending on the opponent and the result.

The union whose deal expired in December 2002 says management is locking the players out while the USSF says players are on strike. The federation plans to use inexperienced players at Trinidad unless there is an agreement by Feb. 1.

"The players have made it clear that they are ready to train and to play the February 9th game Levinstein said.

USSF spokesman Jim Moorhouse said the mediation proposal will be discussed by the federation's executive committee.

"We're very disappointed in the PA's decision to reject the offer of a resolution he said. "We feel if the PA genuinely believes its bargaining stance and proposals are fair and reasonable we can't see any reason they would not have wholeheartedly embraced this proposal."

OFFICIAL US SOCCER PRESS RELEASE:

PLAYERS ASSOCIATION REJECTS U.S. SOCCER OFFER FOR BINDING ARBITRATION

CHICAGO (January 10 2005) — The U.S. Soccer Federation the national governing body for soccer in the United States has been notified by the U.S. Men’s National Team Players Association that they have rejected U.S. Soccer’s proposal for binding arbitration to resolve the current labor dispute.

Had the proposal been accepted the dispute would have been effectively resolved and U.S. Soccer would have immediately called the U.S. National Men’s Team into Training Camp to prepare for the opening match in the final round of the FIFA World Cup qualifying scheduled for February 9 in Trinidad.

The binding arbitration proposed by U.S. Soccer called for each party to submit one final proposal (which for the Players Association could have been their most recent proposal or an adjusted proposal). Following those submissions an arbiter would have selected a single proposal in its entirety.

STATEMENT FROM U.S. SOCCER
U.S. Soccer is very disappointed that the players association has rejected our proposal for arbitration which we believe was the surest path to resolving this labor dispute. If the PA genuinely believed its bargaining stance and latest proposal were fair and reasonable we cannot conceive of any reason why the players association would not have wholeheartedly embraced and agreed to this proposal.