It has been a while since I’ve put my lawyer hat on while writing for Footiebusiness, but the saga involving Major League Soccer’s Golden Boot winner deserves a mention. For those not following, Camilo Sanvezzo, the Brazilian forward who starred for Vancouver last year was recently photographed wearing the jersey of Mexican side Queretaro. The photo was sent out via Twitter and appeared on the Mexican Club’s official website. Statements were made indicating that Camilo had signed and was leaving MLS for much bigger money. To many, Camilo’s departure seemed like a foregone conclusion.
The Whitecaps soon pushed back and made clear statements that they believed that Camilo was under contract. The dispute seemingly stems from the option years set forth in the standard MLS contract agreement. The agreement includes a traditional two years followed by two individual, team only, option years. The team exercised the option in November for the 2014 season, but Camilo and his agent disagreed with that Vancouver had the right to exercise any option and that unilateral options are not permissible.
The Vancouver Sun offers the following quote that sheds light on the issue. “Camilo and his agent — as well as los Gallos Blancos — appear to be challenging the league’s unilateral option policy, which according to Mike Jarosi, a sports lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, is unique to the New York-based league.“In the FIFA world, they don’t look on unilateral options favourably. You can’t do them (in other leagues) but there is a giant exception that has been given to the MLS because MLS rules are the byproduct of U.S. labour law, specifically the collective bargaining process,” said Jarosi, who represents many MLS players.”
So what does it all mean? In my view, whether FIFA approves or disapproves of these contracts, the agreement is almost certainly valid under US and New York contract law. It is also likely enforceable under Canadian law. Obviously, there are other issues at play here, including the appearance of the league to agents and other future stars and ongoing efforts to stay in FIFA’s good graces. However, this is the Golden Boot winner and this is seemingly a naked play to at least open negotiations with the league to gain his release.