Seattle Sounders FC's efforts to hire former Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid have been halted by a tampering charge against Seattle filed by Columbus, according to a report.

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Seattle Sounders FC is facing tampering charges in its efforts to hire former Columbus Crew head coach Sigi Schmid, according to a report.

Schmid, considered the top candidate to become Seattle’s first head coach, was offered a contract by the club last week, according to a story in Thursday’s Columbus Dispatch. But the Crew, the team Schmid led to the MLS title this past season, is delaying any announcement from Seattle about Schmid with its tampering claim.

Major League Soccer was to release a statement Thursday regarding the matter from its main headquarters in New York, but it was not sent out. Protocol stipulates that a team must make any claims against another team through the league office. Calls seeking comment from Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer were not returned.

Late Tuesday, Crew president and GM Mark McCullers issued a statement saying Schmid declined the team’s last contract offer and would not be back as coach. Schmid met with the Sounders FC executives last week about the Seattle job, several days after his contract with the Crew had expired.

But the Crew believes Schmid had contact with Sounders officials even though he was denied permission during the season to talk to other clubs, the Dispatch reported. Then when Schmid’s contract expired, Columbus cited a clause in the contract that restricted Schmid from disclosing confidential information to another team.

Sounders FC might have to pay the Crew an undisclosed amount to settle the matter and then be able to name Schmid its coach.

“It’s sort of like a lawsuit against you,” Schmid said in the report. “It’s easier to settle for $25,000 or something than to fight it. You can make it ugly and drag it out and cost everybody a lot of money, or [settle]. But I don’t know why Seattle would have to pay anything to the Crew.”

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com