FIFA: US Soccer is Failing its Duty

We recently sent a letter to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland. Having spent months studying American soccer, meeting with professional players and coaches, young athletes and officials, we at SFC felt compelled to share what we have learned.

The United States Soccer Federation is systematically structured in a way that disenfranchises fans and undercuts Division II leagues like North American Soccer (NASL). USSF is an institution depraved, utterly corrupted by dark money influence and conflicts of interest.

Diving further into the weeds, we find USSF Board’s power distribution completely indefensible. Two top executive officers, bureaucrats really, control 13.33% of the total Board votes, an equivalent amount as allocated to the Adult, Youth, and Professional Councils. Three independent directors, without any significant stake in the sport, outnumber and outvote each of these councils, having 20% voting power.

USSF presidents and vice presidents, like any official working at an administrative agency, want to enhance and maintain power. In other words, the governing structure of American soccer incentivizes stagnation and greed to win out over fundamental change.

Equally concerning is how improperly intertwined Soccer United Marketing, Major League Soccer, and USSF are. To a large degree, they simply have become different arms of a single economic entity. Direct economic ties between these organizations have created ample reasons for federation management to protect MLS’s interests over and above other stakeholders. It is wrong. Fans deserve better.

So what do we want for US soccer? First and fundamentally, for the federation overseeing it to be responsible and neutral in disputes between leagues. Parties should engage in adult negotiations over these trivial matters and focus on the systemic problems plaguing American soccer, namely grassroots player development, and a disservice female professional players.

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  • Michael Librizzi
    commented 2018-02-24 14:22:40 -0500
    I don’t like the phrases “American Soccer” and “US Soccer.” Please don’t use them. To do so enables the argument that soccer rules should be adapted to the American market; an argument made to FIFA for years. Fundamentally, the issue at stake is the business model that makes soccer work in the rest of the world and NOT IN THE USA. It all revolves around one issue – who owns the commercial advertising rights. Think about Soccer. The game doesn’t stop for commercial breaks. All advertising is seen around the stadium so therefore, the stadium owns the advertising rights. Throughout the world, there is an economic interest in building a stadium and local teams because they generate tremendous advertising dollars through the brick and mortar facility. Compare that to the US where the digital advertising revenues are co-owned by leagues and team owners. Stadiums get paid rent , and taxpayers and sports fans pick up the tab for the stadium. You and I usually need to pay a costly monthly cable subscription so we can watch our local teams play in our taxpayer funded stadiums. This is not the case in the rest of the world where soccer dominates and stadiums generate revenues for local economies not select billionaire team owners.