Sports Law • Risk Management

Foolish Behavior and an Athlete's Denied Visa

Sports visas are a common way for professional sports teams to expand its talent base by acquiring international athletes. Unfortunately the immigration approval process can be complicated when an athlete has criminal infractions.

According to a press release by the New York Red Bulls Major League Soccer team, its athlete, Luke Rodgers, was denied a renewal of his P-1 visa by the U.S. government. The New York Post’s article on March 30, 2012 cites that Rodgers was denied his initial visa back in 2010 due to his criminal record. Upon reconsideration, the U.S. government gave him a short-term, one-year visa. Unfortunately Rodgers picked up another criminal charge since the approval of his original visa. His additional trouble with the law may have contributed to the denial of a renewed visa. Rodgers was released from his contract with the Red Bulls after Rodgers immigration appeal was denied so that both Rodgers and the Red Bulls could pursue other options.

Careful consideration should be made of which athletes are best suited for any professional or collegiate team. For instance, those with criminal records may be more likely to face other criminal charges in the future. This can restrict an athlete’s ability to play for his or her team. If it is an international athlete, like Rodgers, it could result in the denial of the acceptance or renewal of any visa application. A player’s legal problems can interfere with an athlete’s ability to play for a team. Thus, team leaders should carefully consider if they want to deal with the potential headaches of an athlete with an existing unfavorable criminal record.