On Feb. 10th, the USSF Presidential Election is a Chance to Take Our Game Back
On October 10, 2017, in a World Cup qualifying game against Trinidad and Tobago, USMNT player Clint Dempsey’s second-half shot hit the post rather than going in the goal, and we failed to make the cut. While I’m sure that missed shot will haunt Dempsey forever, the soccer community should look at it for what it is - a gift. That missed goal opened our eyes to the systemic failures and the need for change at USSF and, as hard as it may be, we should be thankful for it.
The election to replace Sunil Gulati as USSF president has drawn an unprecedented field. On February 10th, at SeaWorld in Orlando, F.L. (...cue the dolphins), 550 delegates representing youth, adult, pro and athlete councils, USSF board members, and ONE fan representative, will vote on the future of soccer in America.
For the past month, SFC has been listening to fans, reading coverage, and spending time getting to know the candidates. We attended the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, where we spoke with most of them personally and attended their one-on-one panel interviews. We also saw first-hand, with angry question after angry question, that fans of soccer are fed up.
Based on what we’ve learned, it’s clear to us that two candidates - Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro - will do nothing more than continue the status quo. Carter and Cordeiro are seeking to cement a system that is more concerned with growth in their own boardrooms than on American fields. Whether it’s the lack of meaningful investment in development programs or support for coaches, or the inequitable treatment of women, soccer’s growth will continue to be held back if it’s business as usual. And Carter and Cordeiro are business as usual.
A Carter presidency would be a continuation of the current philosophy at USSF. Her answers in Philadelphia, including that she’s “in favor of what will drive the most revenue into our sport,” did nothing to persuade us otherwise. Revenue is good if it’s used to benefit grassroots growth, but past behavior indicates that neither is interested in growing the pie for everyone.
We need a president at USSF whose main interest is the advancement of soccer. As the CEO of SUM, Carter perpetuated the anti-competitive stance of MLS and has contributed to the slow death of lower division soccer. In a recent survey of the Athlete’s Council, the relationship between SUM and USSF was the biggest flashpoint. Players know that this relationship is bad for athletes and the game. As president of USSF, do we really expect Carter to do anything different?
And speaking of not doing anything different, Cordeiro is trying to paint himself as a change candidate. But here’s a news flash, you can't be the change candidate if you’ve been inside the system for decades. Cordeiro is, and will always be, a money man. A Goldman Sachs executive and a disciple of Chuck Blazer - read greed, corruption and luxury apartments for cats - Cordeiro is the embodiment of money’s hold over soccer.
Coverage of this election has been robust, and moved from sports focused online outlets to national papers of record like the New York Times and the Washington Post, and that is a good thing. The heat and fervor around this election, and the calls for a change in leadership, will hopefully make its way through the clutter. As one candidate has said, this election is “an incredible opportunity to take a low point and make it a pivotal moment." Let’s hope the delegates headed to Orlando are listening.
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