More than 75 former and present North American Soccer League players have filed a class-action antitrust suit against the NASL, the United States Soccer Federation and FIFA (Federation International), the governing body of world soccer.
The suit, filed Wednesday evening in Federal District Court inMinneapolis, challenges the NASL draft system, the standard player's contract, the waiver system, Commissioner Phil Woosnam's power, the two-year option clause and the territorial exclusivity for NASL teams.
"The club owners are in direct violation of the antitrust laws in this country," said Ed Garvey, the staff director of the NASL Players Association. "It's a simple case and I can't see what their defense would be."
Garvey, who also is the executive director of the NFL Players Association, cited several successful court cases involving football players who filed suits against the NFL and team owners for violation of antitrust laws.
"These are the exact same type of violations," Garvey said at a news conference at his office yesterday. "Those antitrust laws have been clarified over the last few years and it should be clear to these people they can't keep operating this way. It's incredible the way 24 NASL owners would continue to ignore these laws."
Garvey also said an additional 40 players are expected to join the suit within the week.
He said the union would seek money damages. "We're not asking for a determined amount of money. We'll let the court decide that," said Garvey.
The NASL office and Woosnam directed all comment to labor counsel Bob Rolnick, who said he had no knowledge of any suit having been filed.
"I haven't seen any complaint nor have my clients been served with anything as far as I know," said Rolnick. "So I can't comment. I can't tell you a thing."
Some of the NASL all-star players involved are Dallas' Kyle Rote, San Diegos Julie Veee and Alan Mayer, and Seattle's Tony Chursky and Jim McAlister.
The Ione Washington Diplomat who has joined the suit thus far, Alex Pringle, said the thought "the suit will be good for the league because many players have been misused.
"Players are being traded or cut in the middle of the season with no explanation," said Pringle, a reserve defender. "Things like that should be sorted out. It's time somethine is done to prevent that from happening continuously.
"I won't benefit a lot because I don't have too many more years to play. But it should help the young players coming in."
Washington Diplomat President Steve Danzansky had not heard of the suit until Rolnick called him yesterday afternoon.
"I don't know what's going on," said Danzansky, "so I don't know what to say."
Minneapolis attorney Ed Gelnnon, who represented the NFL Players Association in its suit challenging the NFL's "Rozelle Rule" reserve clause, will represent the players.