A meeting between representatives of Team America, the North American Soccer League, the Major Indoor Soccer League and the players' union will be held today in New York in an attempt to work out an agreement for loaning players to Team America.
Earl Foreman, commissioner of the MISL, called the meeting in an attempt to set up a system of compensation for MISL teams and their players who wish to join Team America, the new Washington-based NASL franchise that also is serving as the development squad for the U.S. national team.
"This meeting is a necessary prelude to us getting players," said Team America owner Robert Lifton, who admitted he did not expect to receive any MISL players in time for Sunday's NASL home opener. "But this is a step that should have been taken long ago. I hope we can effect some solutions."
"We can't allow our players to play for Team America without a specific loan agreement," said Foreman, who will not attend the meeting. Charles Evranian, the MISL deputy commissioner, will represent his league. Also attending will be Lifton, NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam, NASL President Howard Samuels and players' association Director John Kerr.
"The NASL comes to us repeatedly and tells us to do things for America," said Foreman. "They say Team America is the savior of the NASL. But Team America is, in my opinion, simply a NASL franchise. If we can work out an agreement, I'd be happy to allow my players to play for Team America. But it is really not our problem."
Foreman said he would hope to place any agreement reached at the meeting before his league officers Tuesday, and expected to discuss the agreement by conference call either Wednesday or Thursday. Foreman warned, however, that the MISL playoffs, now in their semifinal round, could force postponement of the conference call.
The NASL and MISL have repeatedly failed to reach agreement on the transfer of players from indoor teams to Team America. The MISL season lasts almost a month into the outdoor season, and the NASL's 12-month player contracts have kept players from joining indoor teams during the winter.
Foreman also reacted angrily to accusations last week by Samuels that he was holding Team America "hostage" by not allowing MISL players to try out for the team. Foreman said a "blackball" of MISL players by NASL owners, instituted three years ago to keep NASL players from joining indoor teams during the winter, would have to be lifted before MISL players could join Team America.
"The blackball has been a lump in the throats of my people for three years," Foreman said.