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CARSON, Calif. – Rarely do professional athletes, in any sport, volunteer to speak with the media. But before the United States men's national team's training session on Thursday, Jermaine Jones sought the gathering of cameras and recorders at the StubHub Center to get some things off his chest.
Jones' pressing issue: the limbo that has become his club situation.
The 34-year-old midfielder has been out of contract since playing his final game with the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup playoffs last October. A six-game MLS suspension for making physical contact with referee Mark Geiger in that last Revs match is, according to Jones, preventing him from pursuing "good offers" in Germany, since FIFA regulations require federations to uphold any disciplinary actions for newly transferred players.
"It's a little bit ridiculous, everything," he said. "It's really crazy."
"The problem is that, all other leagues, they're already in the season. So it's half of the season played," added Jones, who had his appeal denied by MLS commissioner Don Garber last month. "If you have a player who has six games suspended, it's tough to bring him in. Then you have maybe 10 games. It's not easy for all the other teams.
"And then I feel like it's unfair that you close a window for a player who did a lot for this country and for this sport to close that window when he said, 'OK, I'm ready to go and accept the suspension, six games, in the States but let me go somewhere else and play somewhere else.' It's tough."
A return to New England, which holds Jones' MLS rights, is not looking likely, either. Last month, he tweeted that the Revs had offered him "less than 20 percent" of the $3 million he made last year.
He had some unflattering words to describe New England's latest offer.
"I did everything what I came here [to do] when I came to the States," Jones said. "I helped New England with the Kraft family to put the soccer out in front and now, at the end of the day, I stand there and get an offer what is a joke."
Jones also feels wronged by what he sees as a double standard being applied to his MLS suspension. He didn't name any names, but he clearly was referencing the league's three-game ban of Clint Dempsey for tearing up a referee's notebook in a fit of rage during a Seattle Sounders loss in the U.S. Open Cup. A tournament disciplinary panel followed the letter of the law in giving Dempsey a suspension of six games or two years, whichever is greater.
"If you see the situation what happened [with Jones and Geiger] and you see the situation what happened in the league too with other national team players, they get a complete different suspension," Jones said.