US National Team Players and Federation pick a mediator.

Finally, the National team player’s Union and US Soccer Federation have agreed to a mediator to resolve the labor dispute that has erupted on the eve of the last round of World Cup qualifying.

Negotiators from the U.S. Soccer Federation and its union are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator on Thursday in an effort to resolve the dispute threatening to keep the regular players off the field for a World Cup qualifier next month.

The players had been playing for the national team without a labor agreement since 2002 and are looking for a pay increase given their recent run of success – the US National Team is ranked in FIFA’s top 20 teams. But the Federation, the governing body for soccer in the United States, balked at how much the players had asked for.

Players asked that the player pool for qualifying for the World Cup be increased from $900,000 to $2 million, with the USSF offering $1.35 million. The federation proposed that the bonus for selection for the 23-man World Cup roster rise from $25,000 per player to $30,000, and the union asked for $50,000.

Consequently, a training camp in December and 2 friendlies against Korea and Sweden this month had to be cancelled. The Federation even brought in replacement players this week to start preparing for the qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago next month.

The US is expected to qualify pretty easily as one of the top 3 of 6 teams left in the qualification hunt. Consequently, the players are probably correct to gamble that not showing up for the away game in February wouldn’t seriously jeapordize their chance to qualify for Germany. Some might thinkg that the players are putting a berth in the World Cup at risk, but I think they’re right. To qualify, the US team just needs to win all their home matches, which is pretty doable, and get some ties on the road. Here’s hoping the mediator can find a solution both sides accept.

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