Here’s an interesting article discussing (the lack of) training compensation for USA youth clubs. If you’re not familiar, the basic idea is that FIFA requires professional clubs to pay a fee to a young player’s youth club when they sign that player to a professional contract. However, because as usual the US soccer infrastructure is not aligned with the global standard, US professional clubs don’t pay the fee, and youth clubs don’t collect. From the article:
Despite FIFA guidelines, amateur and professional teams in the United States do not pay or receive training fees as a result of U.S. Soccer policies. These fees are designed to encourage player development and reward youth teams for having produced professional players. Some argue these fees play an important part of funding the logistics of player development such as the purchasing of team uniforms, field upkeep, scholarships, etc.
As an example, let’s take these two players from Real Colorado who were recently drafted by professional leagues. Now, if US Soccer adhered to the FIFA training compensation policy, Real Colorado would be entitled to a fee when these players signed a professional contract. Real could then reinvest that fee in enhanced player development for current players, or perhaps lower their fees to play, or perhaps provide scholarships. Maybe a current 14 year old is the beneficiary of that reinvestment, and in turn also signs a professional contract in four years, for which Real again receives a fee. The cycle continues, building on itself, player development rewarded with something besides trophies and a press release. Can you see how this one policy could affect player development in the US? What incentive do youth clubs currently have for developing soccer players? Very little I would say. Youth clubs’ main incentive now is collecting fees from parents. Does that incentivize developing players? No, it incentivizes signing up kids to your program, by holding out the promise of college scholarships and by winning trophies with athletic kids, not necessarily by developing technical, tactical soccer players.
To us, disregarding the FIFA training fee policy is just one more instance of the US soccer “exceptionalism” argument (“exceptional” being a negative here). If the US ever wants to compete on the global level in soccer, we’re going to have to align our policies with the rest of the world. The model for producing top-level clubs and world-class players is proven, we just need to adopt that model. It’s perplexing why we think we can do so many things differently and still compete.
What do you think? Should training fees be enforced in US soccer?