Soccer Players Lose Fight to Not Be Seen Advertising Tequilaby and
Appeals court rules against players union in fight over poster
Panel says sport called ‘beautiful’ but bargaining can be ugly
Soccer may be known as “the beautiful game” but the collective-bargaining process behind the sport can be ugly.
So said a federal appeals court in ruling Thursday that the union representing the U.S. men’s team couldn’t stop the sport’s national governing body from using images of a group of players in a sponsorship poster advertising tequila.
The team’s collective bargaining unit had convinced an arbitrator and a lower-court judge that it had the right to object to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s poster featuring el Jimador, a popular mid-shelf tequila brand.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled in favor of the federation, saying the union’s approval wasn’t needed for use of player likenesses in a print ad featuring six or more team members. The court’s opinion didn’t say why the union objected to the ad.
Lawyers for the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the ruling.
The case is U.S. Soccer Federation Inc. v. U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association, 15-3402, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Chicago).