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Resolution on Honduras’ Espinoza Claim Expected Next Week

FIFA is reportedly set to rule on Honduras’ complaint against Roger Espinoza and Sporting KC.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Back in June of this year, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza was called up by Honduras for their World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Panama. At the time, Espinoza had withdrawn from the team because of a back injury he picked up in the club’s 1-0 loss to Colorado on May 27th. Espinoza picked up a red card in that game, missing the club’s game the next week against Minnesota on June 3rd. Espinoza’s withdraw was announced on June 5th, three days before Honduras’ game against Mexico.

On June 10th, just two days after Honduras lost 3-0 to Mexico in Mexico City, Espinoza was in the starting lineup for Sporting in their 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact. Then the day after Honduras picked up a 2-2 draw in Panama in their second World Cup qualifier of the international break, Espinoza was again in the starting 11 for Sporting’s 4-0 US Open Cup fourth round game against Minnesota United.

Espinoza playing in the Montreal game didn’t sit well with the Honduran federation as federation president Jorge Salomon said at the time Honduras would be following the process FIFA has laid out for these situations. That involved the Honduran federation filing a claim with FIFA against both Espinoza and Sporting KC. Salomon and Honduras did in fact file a claim against Espinoza and his club stating that they deceived both the Honduran people and the federation when Espinoza took the field against Montreal.

Today in another report out of Honduras, the federation’s secretary, Jose Ernesto Mejia talked about the claim, stating that FIFA’s disciplinary committee is meeting on the 28th of this month to take up the case and a decision will be made then.

What that means for Sporting is that they could hear their fate on the June 10th game against Montreal. If FIFA rules in favor of Honduras in their claim, they would request that MLS declare the game against Montreal a forfeit by Kansas City.

It could also call into question Sporting KC’s game against San Jose on June 17th that finished 0-0. This is because Espinoza served his one game suspension for his red card against Colorado on June 3rd against Minnesota. Since that was the start of the international break. If FIFA rules that Espinoza should have been released at that time to join Honduras, he shouldn’t have served his suspension then because MLS rules state that a red card suspension cannot be served while on international duty. If Espinoza was supposed to be away with Honduras, he would have served the red card suspension in the game on the 17th.

It shouldn’t have an effect on Sporting KC’s Open Cup run though as the game against Minnesota United in the fourth round of the tournament was on June 14th, outside the FIFA international window and Espinoza could have returned to his club by that point, similar to how Sebastian Giovinco played for Toronto FC 24 hours after playing for Italy.

The decision is something to keep an eye on especially with both Sporting and Montreal fighting for playoff positioning.