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Kei Kamara won't play in MLS this season

FIFA's rules on transfers bar Kei from playing in MLS this year.

Tom Dulat

The news that Kei Kamara's contract with Middlesbrough F.C. was mutually terminated last week sent waves around MLS. The former Sporting Kansas City man was eyeing up a possible return to the league that gave him his start. There were even rumors swirling that he would like a return to Kansas City or Vancouver.

With all the questions surrounding transfer orders, the league confined that he'd come through the allocation process and the Crew currently have the top spot. There was one part that was overlooked — whether he was eligible to play. Currently a free agent, it would initially appear that he'd be free to sign with any team.

It turns out that it's not that simple. Initially identified by Sporting fan Nathan Martin on Thursday, FIFA regulations likely bar his registration. FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players states (PDF) that:

Players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association. As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period.

Kamara's contract didn't expire within MLS's registration window that ended on August 6th and he cannot be registered by an MLS team. Sporting Kansas City's Peter Vermes confirmed the FIFA rule will block his return to MLS this year. Kamara is still free to pursue opportunities within Europe since his deal was terminated before the closing of the European transfer window.

This doubly impacts the Crew. They odds are very slim that the team will have a chance to add an impact forward for the playoff run — though they had chances during the summer when the window was open. Unless they make a pre contract signing, they won't be using that top allocation spot either, a ranking that resets after the season.

Kamara can still sign with MLS, but wouldn't be able to play until the beginning of next season. It's unclear if he can be signed and then loaned out. The lure of immediate playing time with a European team likely will weigh heavily in his decision making process.