Professional Sports Unions Blast Illinois Workers’ Compensation Proposal

As discussed previously on the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider last month, Illinois has introduced a Senate Bill to limit the age that an injured Illinois professional athlete can collect workers’ compensation benefits to the age of 35. Since that time, professional sports unions have come out strongly in opposition to the measure, including the National Football League’s Player Association (NFLPA) and the Major League Soccer Player’s Union.

The NFLPA, after previously warning that the proposed measure could result in free agents being cautioned against going to the Chicago Bears due to the team’s support of the provision, confirmed that it has told players to consider other states’ teams’ offers if contract terms are otherwise similar. The Bears previously played down fears that the NFLPA would take such a step or that players would take seriously any such recommendations, and NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah accused the Bears of making a “concerted effort to go after its own players” by supporting the proposed change.

The MLS Player’s Union additionally joined in the NFLPA’s opposition to the bill, potentially due to the impact of the bill on the Chicago Fire club. Director of the MLS Player’s Union Bob Foose blasted the measure as a “money grab by the owners” who he alleged would retain the workers’ compensation benefits that would otherwise be paid. He also argued that maintained that professional athletes should not receive any differential treatment than other workers.

At this time, there is no scheduled vote on the bill.

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