Grant Wahl has the latest on potential reforms for females in FIFA, Jermaine Jones's club options, Copa America Centenario and much more.
The FIFA reform committee is set to present its formal proposal next week to the FIFA executive committee, and while most of the attention has gone to governance reforms like term limits and background checks, U.S. women’s players like Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan have gotten behind a push for gender reform led by Australian ExCo member Moya Dodd.
Part of Dodd’s proposal is a requirement that FIFA leadership bodies have at least 30% gender equity, arguing that research shows global companies that meet that standard are less corrupt.
“I think it’s amazing that Moya has created this proposal to take to the reform committee, because it’s starting a conversation,” said Wambach, whose final game of her storied career will take place on December 16 when the U.S. meets China in New Orleans. “I definitely back her in this endeavor. So often with equality and especially gender equality issues, women don’t help each other enough. And also, if you’re a firm believer in actual equality from a human perspective, I think men should be a part of this as well.”
Wambach added that she wants the 30% gender equality figure just to be the start. We’ll find out next week if the reform committee—which has 12 men and one woman—is actually listening. As of now, less than 1% of the voters in the February FIFA election will be women.
Here are more insider notes from around the soccer world:
What are Jermaine Jones's options?
Where is Jermaine Jones heading? That’s one of the big questions for the MLS offseason after the 34-year-old U.S. midfielder finished his contract with New England. New England retains his MLS rights, however, and I’m told the Revolution’s priorities are (in order): 1) Keep Jones and sign him to a new contract. 2) Trade his rights to another MLS team. 3) Watch him sign with a team outside MLS—Jones has interest from teams in England, Germany, Mexico and Brazil—and retain his MLS rights by making a qualifying offer.
Jones, who earned a guaranteed $3.05 million in 2015 (per the MLS Players Union), wants to have a multiple-year guaranteed contract. New England has not made a formal offer, but I’m told Jones is aware of what New England would offer right now (in a ballpark sense) and does not want to accept it. Jones, whose family lives in the Los Angeles area, would prefer to be closer to the West Coast, but one big question is how many MLS teams would want Jones on contract terms that he’d agree to. (Keep in mind, he’s also facing a potential six-game suspension to start the season for making physical contact with referee Mark Geiger in the MLS playoffs.)
One source says not to expect any resolution on Jones for a while, perhaps until January or even later. He’s being paid through the end of December and has shown in the past that he’s willing to wait to get an MLS deal done. The January transfer window will also give Jones an indication of what he’s worth on the open market internationally.
Copa America Centenario details emerge
The Copa América Centenario is now set for 10 U.S. cities next summer, and details are starting to emerge about the specifics. I’m told MLS will likely not schedule any games during the group stage of the tournament. The draw is set to have four seeded teams, with one of them being the host United States. I’m told the four temporary grass surfaces will be given more time to take root than we usually see during the summer, and organizers are expecting that every country will send its best possible teams.
The biggest question remains Brazil’s Neymar, who will face pressure to play in the Olympics at home in August. A source close to Neymar says he thinks the Barcelona superstar will play in Copa América.
January plans for USMNT, U-23s
The U.S. men’s national team is done for 2015, but plans are already in motion for the annual January camp on the West Coast. I’m told this time there will likely be a mix of first-team players as well as players from the Under-23 national team. There may also be an Under-23 camp after the January camp. The main goal for the U-23s, of course, is to beat Colombia in a home-and-home playoff in March to qualify for the Olympics.
'Bloodbath' of an off-season for middle-tier MLS players
One longtime MLS GM tells me that this offseason could be a “bloodbath” for middle-class and veteran MLS players making between $100,000 and $250,000. The problem: The new collective bargaining agreement wasn’t agreed upon until March, and the salary budget per team didn’t go up nearly as high as some league GMs were expecting.
As a result, several teams had to use far more allocation money than they had planned to get cap compliant in March—and now have much less allocation money than they had expected for next season. (Most GMs plan on how to use their allocation money more than one window ahead.) The longtime GM says to look for middle-class MLS players to suffer and in many cases have their salaries reduced.
Not everyone in the league totally agrees with that assessment, however. Another MLS GM said his team didn’t expect the cap to go up that much and thus doesn’t have a problem with low allocation money. He added that if there are more players than usual in the re-entry draft, he’s hoping his team can benefit from that. A league source did say, however, that he would be surprised if there were that many more players than usual available in re-entry.