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CONCACAF “Monitoring”; Is a Forfeit in the Future?

February 23, 2010

With only 2 days until the end of the CBA negotiation extension and no progress made today, the possibility of a player strike is now very real. Any work stoppage puts the Crew’s Champions League game in serious doubt. Even if the players go on strike and come back before March 9th, the lack of match practice would seriously hamper the team’s chances for advancement.

I have been wondering what would happen if Columbus were unable to field a team. It’s unlikely that the game will get rescheduled. The next round would begins in late March; two weeks after the game in Toluca. The Toronto Sun was able to contact CONCACAF to get a clarifying response on the subject:

To respond to the questions regarding sanctions, any sanctions would need to be decided on by a disciplinary committee. CONCACAF is following the labor negotiations very closely and has been in constant contact with Major League Soccer.

Sanctions would only add insult to the injury of bowing out of the Champions League without even getting a chance to play. As to what kind of penalty the Crew might face, the CONCACAF regulations stipulate(PDF):

3.11 The following fines shall apply in the case of withdrawal of a team. If withdrawal occurs:
a. After entering the tournament but before the day of the draw for the Preliminary Round: A fine of $5,000 plus a forfeiture of any entry fees.
b. On or after the day of the draws for the Preliminary Round and Group Stages but prior to any Preliminary Round game having been played (involving any teams): A fine of $7,500 plus a forfeiture of any entry fees.
c. After the commencement of the Preliminary Round but prior to the day of the first Group Stage games: A fine of $10,000 plus a forfeiture of any entry fees.
d. After the commencement of the Group Stage but prior to the day of the draw for the Championship Stage: A fine of $15,000 plus a forfeiture of any entry fees.
e. At any point after the draw for the Championship stage: A fine of $20,000 plus a forfeiture of any entry fees.

3.12 In the event that a team, in the view of the CONCACAF Executive Committee, fails to report properly for, to commence, or to complete, any game in the CCL, then the opponent of that team shall be deemed to have won 3-0 (or more in the case of an abandoned match where the other team has already reached a higher score at the time their opponent abandoned the game) regardless of whether the non-playing team is subsequently deemed to have withdrawn from the event.

3.14 Depending on the circumstances and the decision of the CONCACAF Executive Committee, a team that withdraws at any stage of the competition may be ordered to reimburse the particular Local Organizing Committee, the opposing team or teams (in the Group Stage) and CONCACAF and any expenses that they have already incurred as a result of its proposed involvement or non- involvement in the competition and also pay compensation for any damages or losses arising from its withdrawal. This is in addition to any fines imposed above.

A $20,000 fine, a 3-0 loss for each game missed, and damages to CONCACAF and Toluca. While the penalty would not be devastating financially, it’s certainly a cruel reminder that the Crew will be missing out on one of the biggest games since the 2008 MLS Cup.

UPDATE: Taking good news where I can, Steve Sirk tweeted that now probably isn’t the best time for the players to strike and the Crew may dodge a work stoppage for now. I can see his point and I hope he is right.

UPDATE Again: Steve Goff is saying the players are voting on a strike (I would have thought they would already have done that) and no deal is in sight.

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