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Sporting Kansas City prevented from signing Parsemain

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FIFA rules have prevented Sporting KC from signing talented Martinique forward Kevin Parsemain

United States v Martinique: Group B - 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

It is looking like Sporting Kansas City will not be able to sign Martinique international forward Kevin Parsemain after all, well at least not until after the season if they are still interested in pursuing him. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes was interested in adding him to the roster but a harsh interpretation of FIFA rules is preventing the deal from taking place.

Sporting KC intended to sign him but part of acquiring a player from outside of the country is requesting the International Transfer Certificate.

“Any player over the age of 18 who has been previously registered to a club in another country cannot be registered to an affiliated club in the United States until U.S. Soccer has received an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from the player's former association.” – U.S. Soccer rules

While that is the phrasing from U.S. Soccer, it is the rule across all soccer around the world.

When a club wants to sign a player that was playing for a club outside of their country they send a request to their federation and the federation will request the ITC from the national federation where the player was most recently playing.

Sounds easy?

Normally it is. Some national federations take longer to respond than others but most process the ITC rather quickly and usually a club can get the ITC in a few days.

In this case there are a couple twists to getting Parsemain’s ITC.

Parsemain last played for a club in Martinique, basically trying to stay in shape in preparation for when he could sign with another club. He was named to the Martinique national team for the Gold Cup where he re-caught the eye of Sporting KC. Parsemain had a great showing at the Gold Cup, scoring three goals (including two against the U.S.) but SKC had seen him before the Gold Cup.

“We knew of him before,” explained Vermes. “He was in Seattle previously. His form was pretty good in the Gold Cup, three goals in three games.”

Parsemain training with SKC
Thad Bell

Seattle had signed Parsemain in 2014 when he impressed the Sounders in preseason but unfortunately tore his ACL before playing in the regular season. A year later the Sounders released him when they needed an international slot.

It sounds like Parsemain had not fully recovered at that time. He eventually signed with a team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a year and then moved to a team in Martinique. He had an agreement with the team in Martinique that he could leave when he got another offer.

Here is where it gets odd. Martinique is an Overseas Department of the France Republic and thus all of their players fall under the French Football Federation (FFF). Martinique is not even a member of FIFA. They are a member of CONCACAF and can compete as a national team in the Gold Cup but not the World Cup.

This is similar to former Sporting KC midfielder Stéphane Auvray who played for the Guadeloupe national team in the Gold Cup but was technically a French citizen from FIFA’s perspective.

With Parsemain playing in the top league in Martinique, the ITC request had to go to France.

Convoluted but Sporting KC has worked through this before, so what’s the problem?

France does not consider the Martinique league to be professional. They were good enough to produce players that made an excellent showing at the Gold Cup but still not considered professional.

Out of contract professional players can sign outside of the transfer window but amateur players cannot so the ITC request was denied.

Sporting KC did appeal but the request was denied so there is little recourse for Parsemain but to return home and hope that SKC or another team will still be interested in him the next window.

A source close to Parsemain says that he is headed home but with hopes of coming back in January for next season.

For Parseman opportunities may be running out though. The untimely injury knocked him from Seattle and despite having been a professional before, FIFA and FFF’s ruling him an amateur may have killed the 29-year-old’s last chance. Will another team give him a shot when he is at an age that most forwards start to decline?

To make matters worse, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Martinique and the rest of the Caribbean as he heads home. Certainly Parsemain could have used a paycheck from Sporting KC to help his family recover after Irma passes through but that is not in the cards this time.