The Independent Supporters Council, an organization composed of supporters groups of clubs in the U.S. and Canada that advocates for fair treatment of supporters, issued this statement on Monday:
“To the greater North American soccer community:
“Only a year after we voiced similar concerns over the treatment of MLS players, and despite the sacrifices they made to play the 2020 season, we are once again compelled to unite in support of our players. The Independent Supporters Council and our members have been following with concern the negotiations that have resulted in MLS owners threatening to lock players out after Thursday, February 4th. With the deadline quickly approaching, it is our duty to make our collective voice heard.
“Our players have already made extreme sacrifices over the past year. They were forced away from their families for months, followed an extreme travel schedule during the regular season in adhering to COVID-19 protocols, and made monetary concessions that totaled over $150 million. Now, the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) has made a further proposal extending the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) into the 2026 season, along with other non-economic changes, in acknowledgment of the unprecedented business losses suffered by the MLS owners during the pandemic. We recognize and do not take for granted that everyone involved has made sacrifices. The burden has fallen on not only players, but coaches, staff, and officials. However, MLS owners are now demanding that MLS players bear large pandemic-related losses back-loaded into the end of the CBA. This is despite the fact that, whether today or in the future, MLS owners are far better equipped to absorb these losses without direct impact on their livelihood and families, as compared to MLS players. And, to achieve this shifting of the primary burden, MLS owners now threaten MLS players with removal of their livelihood during an already globally uncertain time.
“Throughout the continuing negotiations and despite the concessions they have already made, the players have made themselves clear; they want to play. They want to play, not just because of their love for the game, but for the cities they represent when they walk on the field. They want to play for the supporters in the stands and at home. They want to play to continue bringing our communities together. Our players understand how much the beautiful game can bring a community together, even when we can't all physically be together. So, as befits the solidarity at the core of the best communities, we, their supporters, unite to support our players during this time. Their sacrifices on and off the field during this trying time continue to elevate our clubs beyond solely the concerns of a balance sheet and open possibilities beyond what can narrowly be won or lost at a negotiating table. We see what our players have done. We support them. Major League Soccer, the message from the supporters is simple.
“Let them play."
MLS and MLSPA, which represents the players, have extended a deadline to complete negotiations by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 4. If an agreement isn’t reached, the league has threatened to lock out the players. It would be the first work stoppage in MLS history and would come slightly less that three weeks before training camps are scheduled to open on Feb. 22.