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Major League Soccer players threaten to strike – SportsUntapped.com
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Added February 9th, 2015 by Ian

Major League Soccer players threaten to strike
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Major League Soccer (MLS) has always wanted to be considered as one of North America’s top sport leagues along with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League. So why not do what all those leagues have done in the past; walk out on strike? MLS has threatened to strike over issues such as free agency and wage increases. The league and the players are set to sign a new collective bargaining agreement and they need to get it done or at least agree on it before the season kicks off on March 6th.

The players’ union wants the league to boost the minimum salary and also allow players to become free agents when their deals have expired. But up to now, management and labour are quite far apart on the issues. This worries the league since its expanding year after year and this season will see the introduction of New York City FC as an expansion franchise. The players agree that salaries are n the rise, but argue that just a select few players are raking in all the cash. Basically, the league is filled with the haves and the have-nots and the gap between the two groups is forever widening.

There’s no question some players are paid well, perhaps too well considering their fading skill levels, and the majority of players are underpaid. Last year, Brazilian Kaka was paid just over $7 million by Orlando City and American international midfielder Michael Bradley of Toronto FC banked $6.5 million. However, the league minimum still stands at $36,500. Statistics show that out of 570 players in the league in 2014, 54 of them were making below $37,000, or were basically paid the league minimum. The union points out that this represents close to 10 per cent of the league’s players.

In addition, free agency doesn’t exist in MLS. This makes it the only major North American pro sports league which doesn’t have it. One of the reasons for this is the confusing ownership system of the league. There are currently 20 teams in MLS and the league technically owns all of them. Therefore, the players sign contracts with the league rather than the individual clubs, and it’s harder for them to move from team to team. Mark Abbott, the president of MLS, believes this system is what makes the league successful.

MLS is growing in popularity with each passing season and has an eight-year $720 million American broadcasting deal in place. The average league attendance is also climbing as it hit a record high of 19,151 per game last year. The players claim they just want to spread the wealth and now is the ideal time to do it, as the sport’s popularity is at an all-time high. This isn’t the first time MLS payers have threatened to strike as they were set to walk out back in 2010 when the previous collective bargaining agreement ran out. However, the two sides came to a last-minute agreement.

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