Who is Ivan Soto?

Ivan Soto is a name that has been making waves on the arena football scene recently. Ivan Soto according to the AFLPU website, is the Executive Vice President of the Arena Football League Players Union. A union which has only come into existence fairly recently. Before the AFL suspended the 2009 season, there wasn’t a formal players union.

But from what I’ve been able to gather the AFLPU appears to have formed sometime last season but didn’t begin to make their presence felt until this season. As I’ve reported in previous articles, ever since the beginning of the season the AFL league office has been embattled with the AFLPU over recent player salaries.

Another thing that I mentioned in previous articles is that since the re-birth of the AFL in 2010, player salaries have decreased due to economic conditions across the board. The disagreement between the AFL and the AFLPU is about whether or not the league is capable of giving players raises at this moment. The AFLPU says that the league has become profitable again and that it should increase player salaries immediately.

But the league says that while they do want to increase salaries, they maintain that it should be done responsibly to prevent another financial collapse like the one in 2009 that almost destroyed the AFL. But the AFLPU says that the league is just stalling because they don’t want to increase player salaries. The AFLPU also demands that a formal collective bargaining agreement be forged between the two entities.

Now while this seems like a simple matter that could easily be cleared up through negotiations  as is the case in other leagues, there are many compelling issues at hand here. Most of them revolve around Ivan Soto and the AFLPU. As I’ve already said, the AFLPU has not been around for very long. It must also be said that Ivan Soto has built quite a negative reputation for himself.

The first indicator should be the AFLPU’s poorly constructed website. Another issue is that the union claims to represent the players but according to ArenaFan.com most of the players in the league have never met or even heard of Ivan Soto or the AFLPU. Chicago Rush Linebacker Kelvin Morris told me earlier this season that there is “no formal players union” in existence that he’s aware of.

Another indicator is that on the AFLPU’s website, there is an online registration form for players who wish to join the union. Something that does not occur in other leagues as players already join their unions upon signing their contracts. Another pressing problem is that the AFLPU is not an official member of the Arena Football League and is not a participating partner.

This is in stark contrast to other sports leagues where the unions are official members of their respective leagues. And there are many around the league who say that while Ivan Soto is the mouthpiece behind the AFLPU, his tactics are questionable. AFL insiders report that the league has considered banning Mr. Soto from AFL games and practices {If they haven’t done so already}.

There are also many fans around the league who do not approve of Mr. Soto’s methods. The AFL has accused Ivan Soto of being the person responsible for the forefit of the Cleveland Gladiators last week, and the labor unrest that occured at the beginning of the season. In return, Ivan Soto has accused the league of unfair labor practices.

Ivan Soto apparently was an insurance salesman before taking part in the AFLPU. Ivan Soto was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the union. Soto says he means well but there are many who say that he is going about it the wrong way. Due to the labor unrest this season, the NFL Network has drastically changed it’s broadcast schedule of their Friday night AFL telecasts.

As of this week, the NFL Network will record Friday night games and they will be broadcast on Saturday afternoons instead. AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz says that Soto and the AFLPU are to blame for this decision by the NFL Network and that it could ultimately cost them their current TV contract. NFL Network is the only television contract that the league has had since it’s resurgence in 2010.

The AFL maintains that while they are trying to workout new salaries for it’s players, the league still provides housing, meals, and transportation for it’s players during the season. The AFLPU says that the league could do and should do better. Earlier this week the AFL league office issued an open letter to the fans through it’s website. The letter details the labor situation on their end of the table.

In the past the AFL has been quiet on internal league issues. But they decided to issue the open letter because they say that “Mr. Soto has misinformed the AFL players, media, and it’s fans about the negotiations and continues to use underhanded tactics.” You can read the letter here: http://www.arenafootball.com/news/arena-football-league-open-letter

Just yesterday the AFLPU issed a response to the open letter which can be read here: http://aflpu.org/index.html

The “underhanded tactics” that the league accuses Ivan Soto of using are as follows:

1. Making unreasonable demands.

2. Setting unrealistic deadlines for labor decisions.

3. Incouraging players to stand against the league for the purpose of forcing the league to increase players salries.

4. Causing labor unrest which has contributed to low attendance numbers and put it’s television contract with the NFL Network in jeopardy .

5. Misinforming the AFL players, media, and fans on the labor situation.

6. Rejecting recent league offers within just hours after the offers are made.

7. Rejecting recent offers without votes from AFL players {A claim which Soto denies}.

8. Underminding the AFL’s member teams.

9. Deceiving the AFL players.

And 10. Insulting the integrity of the AFL fans.

Now you have to admit, those are very strong accusations for someone who claims to work in the best interest of the players and the future of the Arena Football League. Another thing that doesn’t help the images of Soto or the AFLPU is this recent youtube video:


When I looked at the video comments, just about all of them were negative and directed towards Ivan Soto. Facebook and Twitter have also spoken out against Ivan Soto and the union. Many feel that should Ivan Soto continue this current path of negotiating, it will hurt the AFL more than it would help it.

The biggest worry is that the AFL will resort to using replacement players and that doing so could be the downfall of the Arena Football League. This is something that all parties involved are trying to prevent. So who exactly is Ivan Soto? From his perspective he is someone who is trying to give the AFL players a better quality of life.

To others he is someone that made the wrong people angry, and is causing a lot problems.

You can follow me on Twitter: @GabeSalgado82 Hashtag: #Q101Sports

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