Since MLS began in 1996 the league has followed their famous, or infamous, single entity structure, in simple terms, MLS operates in a system where all player contracts, in the end, are owned by the league and not the clubs. All 28 teams of MLS share in revenues, from television to even player transfers.

The single entity structure was established in MLS as a way to make sure that in the early years of the league Major League Soccer would not go bankrupt or teams would not fold operating by themselves. Rather each team would piggyback on each other financially to help the league push forward. Over the last decade the league’s structure has come under question from FIFA, MLSPU, and fans.

Erika Montemor FIFA Head of Player Status spoke to Bolavip at Soccerex regarding the present situation of MLS and the USL and what FIFA, and MLS/USL are doing to come closer to having teams own player contracts and have both leagues following FIFA guidelines.

Erika Montemor on MLS and single entity 

Erika Montemor stated that FIFA and MLS are at an understanding, but the idea is that sooner rather than later the league begins to follow the FIFA model. “In the panel I participated in we spoke about the growth of soccer in the United States… more and more there is an increase of player transfers from the United States not only in volume but in value, and more and more there is a necessity that MLS and USL follow FIFA player/transfer guidelines.”

Montemor hopes that in the coming years both USL and MLS are fully integrated in the FIFA player transfer model, “That is the biggest challenge for FIFA, to have one solution (in regard to player contracts and transfers) for over 200 member nations. Each member has their own issues with regards to contracts, USA, Brazil, Italy, and so on… our job is to make sure that everyone follows a principle set of guidelines, be it player transfers, the registration of minors, and free agency… What I see is that the leagues (MLS and USL) are not part of the FIFA guidelines, for FIFA the contractual agreement of players is between the players and their clubs, or coaches and their clubs. Even though MLS has a single entity, for us (FIFA) the clubs are owners of the player contracts.”

“It’s interesting for us to be here (Soccerex) and learn from the American model, we had a great discussion with agents, MLS and USL executives about FIFA guidelines and the American system”, Montemor concluded.