MLS clubs aren’t accustomed to the $100 million-plus transfer fees that are commonplace in Europe. But every now and then an MLS side will sell a promising player for a substantial monetary prize.
With less than a month to go before the 2024 season, FC Dallas was reportedly closing in on what would have been one of the 10 most expensive outgoing transfers in MLS history—but the league stepped in. According to The Athletic, Dallas received a $13 million bid from the Russian Premier League club FC Spartak Moscow for Jesus Ferreira, and both the club and player were ready to move forward. MLS blocked the deal due to “risks for American business entities doing business with Russian entities,” per the report. (MLS is a single-entity league and can therefore prevent transfers.)
Ferreira, 23, has been a member of the USMNT since 2020, and he has been part of the FC Dallas organization since 2016. Last season, he scored 12 goals for Dallas in 27 appearances.
The hesitancy from MLS to allow one of its homegrown players to move to Russia comes in the aftermath of several complicated sporting situations involving a country that is still at war with Ukraine. Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s status as a Russian oligarch led the English Premier League to force his eventual $5.4 billion sale of the team in 2022 to a group led by American investor Todd Boehly, who is also a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That same year, WNBA star Brittney Griner spent nearly 10 months in a Russian prison for possession of medical marijuana before being released as part of a prisoner swap. Since Griner’s release, very few WNBA players have participated in Russia.