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Red Bulls claim Polish transfer drama around Klimala resolved

New York acknowledges ban due to discrepancies but denies claims out of Poland that they had refused solidarity payments

Minnesota United FC v New York Red Bulls
Patryk Klimala’s former clubs are claiming foul play on the part of the Red Bulls.
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

The New York Red Bulls have acknowledged that discrepancies surrounding last year’s transfer signing of Patryk Klimala have led to a short-term player registration ban from FIFA this week, but denied the claims out of Poland that they refused to honor solidarity payments once notified.

“MLS and the Red Bulls are aware of the issue and have made all required payments,” the club said in a statement to OaM on Wednesday. “We anticipate that FIFA will lift any sanctions shortly.”

The drama began with claims out of Poland late on Monday that the New York Red Bulls were unwilling to pay solidarity fees and “do not agree with the claims of [local] clubs.” According to Andrzej Klemba of Interia, the involved parties are Lechia Dzierżoniów, Legia Warsaw, and Jagiellonia Białystok. However, Polsat Sport claims the list is actually Lechia, Wigry Suwałki, and Unia Żarów.

“The scuffle with the Americans has been going on for quite a long time,” said Adam Bagiński, an executive at Lechia Dzierżoniów. “Probably half a year ago, thanks to the help of the Polish Football Association, we submitted a letter to enforce the debt. The union helps us a lot. Since FIFA has imposed a sanction, it means that we will not see the money soon… There were no problems with receiving the solidarity fee in Europe.”

Training fees can be a crucial stream of income for local clubs, whose players are often poached before reaching the first team. Major League Soccer has long operated around FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, sidestepping the issues involved with development costs. However, in 2019, the league “announced that it would begin adhering to RTSP.” According to Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, the decision benefitted the top division “and, with few exceptions, nobody else.”

The RTSP rules require that, within 30 days of registering a player under 23 years old from another country’s association, the purchasing club must calculate and fulfill solidarity payments to each club that previously trained the player according to his FIFA passport. Klimala was purchased by the Red Bulls as a 22-year-old in April of 2021, but it wasn’t until this week that New York had been notified of discrepancies in their arrangements with his youth clubs. It is unclear why the dispute, and others regarding Polish players currently in Major League Soccer, was registered with such delay.

The story became public with a social media post from Joanna Misiewicz, said to be an employee at the Polish Football Association. “New York Red Bulls with the FIFA ban on registering players for failure to comply with their decision to pay a solidarity contribution to three Polish clubs for the transfer of Patryk Klimala,” she wrote on Twitter and later claiming that the publicizing of the reports had made the Red Bulls “like soapy lightning” in a response to make the payments. When approached by OaM for comment, Red Bulls club officials denied that payments were ever refused by New York but declined to comment on Major League Soccer’s role in fulfilling such payments or whether the resolution of the situation on their end also applied to Portland Timbers forward Jarosław Niezgoda, whose youth clubs also claimed this week to be unpaid.

Klimala has settled in as a central figure in New York’s planning for the immediate future, having logged a goal and three assists in the opening weeks of the 2022 season after scoring eight goals upon his midseason arrival in 2021. Despite this week’s events, it is not believed that the forward’s status with the club is at risk ahead of New York’s match this Sunday against Columbus Crew.