Late Thursday night, news broke that Ambroise Oyongo’s contract with Montreal impact FC has been cancelled by the Fédération Camerounaise de Football (Cameroon Football Federation). Oyongo, recently acquired through a trade with New York Red Bulls, was competing in the African Cup of Nations until Cameroon failed to advance past the group stage. He appeared in two of Cameroon’s three games. He started both and even scored the tying goal against Mali.
Oyongo apparently stayed in Africa as either he or his governing football federation made the declaration about his contract with Major League Soccer being cancelled. According to French news outlet L’Équipe, Oyongo’s previous club Rainbow FC Bamenda loaned the player to the club and he could not be traded. In addition, they claim his amateur status nullifies his current contract as he should never been able to sign a professional contract in the first place.
So, Rainbow Sports Investments, Ltd. is allowed to proudly post about Oyongo’s success with New York Red Bulls on their website, but months later claim his contract is invalid? Yeah, that makes sense. The same contract which is supposedly a loan, was permanently purchased by New York Red Bulls last January, and was even confirmed by Rainbow Sports via their official Facebook. Yes, Rainbow Sports actually posted a link to their Facebook account a year ago that acknowledged the acquisition by the New York Red Bulls. Again, it makes perfect sense for them to pretend the contract never existed.
Although it appears to be simply Oyongo attempting to force a move from Montreal, this situation wouldn’t present itself if it weren’t for Major League Soccer’s single entity structure. If the single entity structure didn’t exist, New York would have solely owned Oyongo’s contract and would have officially traded his contract to Montreal with the trade. However, since his contract his ultimately with Major League Soccer, the team’s he is listed as “belonging to” simply changes from New York to Montreal. Montreal has since stated both the league and the team have abided by all FIFA standards, his contract is genuine, and necessary actions have been taken to ensure his status with the team.
This contract debacle is a bit of deja-vu for the league. Following a successful 2013 MLS Season, the Vancouver Whitecaps exercised an option on Camilo Sanvezzo’s contract to keep him with the team for another year. However, Camilo had other plans as he skipped town, went south of the border, and signed with Quetaro FC. This was extremely confusing and problematic because he was still technically under contract with Major League Soccer, but Camilo, his agent, and Quetaro FC claimed he was out of contract and free to sign with the team. That saga ended with Vancouver and the league having to bite the bullet, and agree to a transfer with Quetaro.
We’ll see how this story future develops, but it will be interesting to see if this saga ends similarly to Camilo’s and how or if this will affect the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement.