PAUL KENNEDY: The price of success

Everyone who reads Soccer America on a regular basis has probably heard of the Bosman ruling, the case involving the obscure Belgian player who won free agency for players within the European Community. Less well known is the case of Ousmane Dabo and Mickael Silvestre, two young French players who challenged a French law that required them to sign their first professional contracts with Rennes, the pro club they joined as stagiaires, literally interns, for salaries fixed at $24,000 a year, plus bonuses. Dabo and Silvestre rejected the offer and instead signed with Inter Milan for many times what they were offered by Rennes, setting off an international dispute that ultimately reached FIFA. Dabo and Silvestre won their case. They were free to join Inter, which was required to pay a fee, far less than what Rennes was demanding, to cover the French club's costs of developing the pair. The relevance for American soccer? The U.S. U-17 national team is in full-time training in Bradenton, Fla. Several players -- notably striker Landon Donovan -- are being courted by big European clubs. So what stops these young Americans from using the exposure they've gained while playing for U.S. national teams and forgoing MLS for European soccer? Little, it seems. MLS is currently in no position to get into a bidding war for these youth stars, just as Rennes was in no position to fight Inter for its young stars. Does the figure $24,000 a year sound familiar? The irony is that the more success the U-17s have -- they won two tournaments last year and buried Germany and France in a third -- the more likely is it that MLS will never be able to sign them. FANS, LET'S HEAR YOUR VIEW! Will MLS pay the price for the U-17s success? Click here to log onto (Soccer) American Graffiti. Then click on the topic entitled "Your View: The price of success" and respond to Paul Kennedy in 200 words or less. Don't hold back! The best responses may be reprinted in a future issue of SA, and If YOUR view is selected, we'll send you a cool t-shirt and pin. Because You're FANATIC.
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