The Honduras soccer governing body has filed a complaint to FIFA against Sporting Kansas City and midfielder Roger Espinoza, originating from a dispute over the player’s unavailability to join the national team earlier this summer.
Jorge Salomon, the president for the National Autonomous Federation of Football of Honduras, told reporters that his organization was misled when Espinoza did not play for the Honduras national team due to injury.
Through a team spokesperson, Sporting KC said it cannot comment about a pending complaint. But when asked about national team call-ups as a generality, coach Peter Vermes said, “Since my time here, we have never rejected a player getting called up to his national team. We’ve always approved it.”
Although a member of the Honduras soccer federation said he expects a ruling from FIFA in the next week, that isn’t necessarily the case. A decision from FIFA isn’t guaranteed to come before the completion of the 2017 MLS season.
If FIFA rules in Honduras’ favor, it has the power to issue Sporting KC a wide array of punishments, with the forfeiture of MLS matches or fines among those options.
The dispute stems from Espinoza not appearing in a pair of World Cup qualifiers in June after he was named to the Honduras national team roster. Espinoza has played 52 matches for Honduras, including two World Cups. He most recently appeared in a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.
After originally planning to re-join the team in June, he withdrew due to back spasms. He did not practice with Sporting KC for a week. At the time, Espinoza classified his back spasms as a day-to-day injury.
Two days after Honduras faced Mexico in one of the World Cup qualifiers, Espinoza started for Sporting KC in an MLS match, though he would have had to inform Honduras of his withdrawal days earlier.
In an interview with Honduran reporters that has since been translated, Salomon said Espinoza “sent the medical report that he could not play with us and then he appeared playing. They deceived the Honduran people and the federation.”
That criticism prompted Espinoza to fight back in the Honduras media, saying he was offended by Salomon’s accusations. “They have tarnished my (reputation),’ he said.
Espinoza declined comment to media in Kansas City.