The Camilo-Vancouver Whitecaps saga is finally over.
The Major League Soccer club announced Friday that it had sold the 25-year-old Brazilian striker to Mexican team Queretaro Fútbol Club for a multi-million dollar fee. Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"We have made the decision to part ways with Camilo. In doing so, we were able to negotiate a club record transfer fee that will give us additional flexibility as we continue to build our club for the upcoming season and beyond," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said in a news release.
The status of Camilo, last season’s top scorer in MLS with 22 goals, had been up in the air for the past two weeks while he’s trained with Queretaro and been photographed wearing the team’s jersey.
At the end of the 2013 MLS season, the Whitecaps exercised their 2014 option on Camilo—there is also a club option for 2015. Despite still being under contract to Vancouver, Camilo, with the help of his agent, appeared to force the Whitecaps’ hand to sell him to Queretaro in order to earn more money.
He earned $247,000 in 2013 and was slated to get a slight pay increase in 2014.
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"We are pleased to report that we’ve come to an agreement with Camilo and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. On behalf of our club, we sincerely regret our misunderstanding in regards to Camilo’s contract earlier in the process," said Adolfo Ríos, Queretaro FC president.
Originally, the Whitecaps had maintained that Camilo was their property and that they expected him to be at pre-season training camp later this month. But it became clear that this was headed for a messy divorce, and that Camilo’s exit was a foregone conclusion, leading to the Whitecaps to begin negotiating with Queretaro over the Brazilian’s transfer fee.
The Whitecaps will pocket two-thirds of the transfer fee from Queretaro, while MLS will bank the rest.
Camilo joined the Whitecaps in 2011. The Brazilian made a total of 92 MLS regular season appearances with Vancouver, scoring 39 goals. Prior to arriving in Vancouver, Camilo had spells with Oeste Paulista Esporte Club and Sport Club Corinthians in Brazil, Malta’s Qormi FC, and Gyeongnam FC of South Korea.
Speaking at Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia, league commissioner Don Garber said he was "very disappointed" with Camilo’s actions after he appeared in a Querétaro jersey while still under contract with Vancouver.
"I’m soccer guy for the past 15 years, but I’m also an American sports guy. When you sign a contract, you honor it," Garber told reporters. "If I sign an employment contract, I honor it. And FIFA will honor it to protect our system. We just gotta manage through it."
Robinson told the media Wednesday that he traveled to Mexico and spoke with Camilo about the situation.
"I was very disappointed and I told him," Robinson said. "The way he acted has been unprofessional. I told him and he agreed. It’s at a stage now where we need to try and do what is right for myself and my team moving forward into next year, and also the club."
The loss of Camilo is a blow—on several fronts—for the Whitecaps. His departure leaves Vancouver with a big hole to fill up front with the start of the 2014 less than two months away.
The Whitecaps come off looking hapless in this public relations nightmare, unable to make Camilo honour his contract as he thumbed his nose at the team and the league. It also sets a dangerous precedent, and gives something to think about to other players looking to get out of their contracts when they’re unhappy with the level of their compensation.