Ambroise Oyongo – Third Party Ownership in the MLS

Ambroise Oyongo – Third Party Ownership in the MLS

After four months of transfer complication Montreal Impact has finally managed to bring in Cameroonian Ambroise Oyongo. The New York Red Bulls traded him at the end of January alongside Eric Alexander in exchange for Felipe Martins and one allocation draft-pick. The end of the transfer saga at Montreal seemed to have motivated the team, who won their first game in the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) season against Real Salt Lake 4:1 last weekend. Oyongo was first loaned to New York Red Bulls in March 2014; he was then considered the best signing of the 2014 season and was signed on a permanent basis. But he was traded to Montreal Impact just two weeks after Red bulls signed him from Cameroonian club Rainbow FC. Rainbow FC takes part in a Cameroonian lower league, and is owned by a group of investors, who purchased Rainbow FC in order to facilitate the transfers of players to other countries. In this regard they are similar to Deportivo Maldonado, a small club in Uruguay that earned $14 Million in 2011 by selling Alex Sandro to Porto. Like Deportivo Maldonado, Rainbow FC is a transition club and serves to profit the investors who own it. As highlighted on FutebolCidade, some investors are backing away from their investments in Europe and South America due to the new Third-Party Ownership regulations. This does not seem to be the case for Rainbow Sports Investment, the company in control of Rainbow FC. According to their website, Ambroise Oyongo is not the only player that Rainbow FC has transferred to the United States - there are at least four other players at clubs of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and MLS. The fact that the MLS owns all player contracts was central for the dispute between Rainbow FC and the Cameroonian Football Federation FECAFOOT on Oyongo’s case. The MLS concept in which the player is owned by the league and not by the club is unique in football. Two weeks after the trade was made public, FECAFOOT claimed that the player’s contract with Montreal Impact was void. According to French publication L'Équipe, this allegation was made because the club that sold Oyongo to the MLS does not have a professional status in Cameroon. This led Montreal Impact to release an announcement stating that ‘[Oyongo’s] contract is in accordance with FIFA regulations’ and suspended him when he failed to attend the pre-season camp. Meanwhile the fact that some European clubs such as Celtic Glasgow had shown an interest in the player may also have played a role in the contract dispute. The fact that this trade happened without prior consent from the player resulted in his decision not to show for the pre-season in February 2015. Oyongo’s agent Edgar Nuentsa spoke to a Cameroonian daily on the trade and stated that for Oyongo the transfer represented a step back in his career. According to Nicolas Onisse, another agent who claims to represent Oyongo, the player signed for Rainbow FC in order to facilitate the transfer to the MLS. Aaron Bauer from the newspaper Once a Metro has done a research on the relationship between Rainbow FC and MLS. Bauer has uncovered a network of players that Rainbow FC owns outside the MLS, including players that have previously played in Thailand and now are at clubs in Germany, Belgium and Greece. A recent article by Bauer adds more detail about the flux of African players to the MLS. He also obtained information on how Rainbow FC is bypassing the TPO rules by using MLS transfer regulations. The transfer conflict between Ambroise Oyongo and the MLS was solved earlier this month without involvement from FIFA. It appears that in encourage Oyongo to play for them, Montreal Impact had to agree to raise his salary and pay him a signing fee of almost US$2 Million. Oyongo finally made his debut for the Impact in a winning game against Dallas. By Thomas Farines -

After four months of transfer complication Montreal Impact has finally managed to bring in Cameroonian Ambroise Oyongo. The New York Red Bulls traded him at the end of January alongside Eric Alexander in exchange for Felipe Martins and one allocation draft-pick.

The end of the transfer saga at Montreal seemed to have motivated the team, who won their first game in the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) season against Real Salt Lake 4:1 last weekend. Oyongo was first loaned to New York Red Bulls in March 2014; he was then considered the best signing of the 2014 season and was signed on a permanent basis. But he was traded to Montreal Impact just two weeks after Red bulls signed him from Cameroonian club Rainbow FC.

Rainbow FC takes part in a Cameroonian lower league, and is owned by a group of investors, who purchased Rainbow FC in order to facilitate the transfers of players to other countries. In this regard they are similar to Deportivo Maldonado, a small club in Uruguay that earned $14 Million in 2011 by selling Alex Sandro to Porto. Like Deportivo Maldonado, Rainbow FC is a transition club and serves to profit the investors who own it.

As highlighted on FutebolCidade, some investors are backing away from their investments in Europe and South America due to the new Third-Party Ownership regulations. This does not seem to be the case for Rainbow Sports Investment, the company in control of Rainbow FC. According to their website, Ambroise Oyongo is not the only player that Rainbow FC has transferred to the United States – there are at least four other players at clubs of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and MLS.

The fact that the MLS owns all player contracts was central for the dispute between Rainbow FC and the Cameroonian Football Federation FECAFOOT on Oyongo’s case. The MLS concept in which the player is owned by the league and not by the club is unique in football.

Two weeks after the trade was made public, FECAFOOT claimed that the player’s contract with Montreal Impact was void. According to French publication L’Équipe, this allegation was made because the club that sold Oyongo to the MLS does not have a professional status in Cameroon.

This led Montreal Impact to release an announcement stating that ‘[Oyongo’s] contract is in accordance with FIFA regulations’ and suspended him when he failed to attend the pre-season camp. Meanwhile the fact that some European clubs such as Celtic Glasgow had shown an interest in the player may also have played a role in the contract dispute.

The fact that this trade happened without prior consent from the player resulted in his decision not to show for the pre-season in February 2015. Oyongo’s agent Edgar Nuentsa spoke to a Cameroonian daily on the trade and stated that for Oyongo the transfer represented a step back in his career.

According to Nicolas Onisse, another agent who claims to represent Oyongo, the player signed for Rainbow FC in order to facilitate the transfer to the MLS. Aaron Bauer from the newspaper Once a Metro has done a research on the relationship between Rainbow FC and MLS.

Bauer has uncovered a network of players that Rainbow FC owns outside the MLS, including players that have previously played in Thailand and now are at clubs in Germany, Belgium and Greece. A recent article by Bauer adds more detail about the flux of African players to the MLS. He also obtained information on how Rainbow FC is bypassing the TPO rules by using MLS transfer regulations.

The transfer conflict between Ambroise Oyongo and the MLS was solved earlier this month without involvement from FIFA. It appears that in encourage Oyongo to play for them, Montreal Impact had to agree to raise his salary and pay him a signing fee of almost US$2 Million. Oyongo finally made his debut for the Impact in a winning game against Dallas.

By Thomas Farines – 

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