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U.S. Soccer Elects Next President

By Dylan Thompson




A week after a historic election, Carlos Cordeiro, the newly elected president of the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”), will attend a meeting with heads of the Canadian and Mexican federations to discuss their joint proposal to host the World Cup in 2026.[1]


At the first contested USSF presidential election in over a decade, Cordeiro emerged victorious, somewhat surprisingly, out of a group of eight candidates.[2] Cordeiro had previously served as the vice-president of USSF for the last two years, and also as a partner at Goldman-Sachs.


After the men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the women’s national team’s on-going fight for equal pay, and increasing fan frustration about the current state of soccer in the US, this was the most coverage the USSF presidential election has ever received. Consequently, this increased media coverage has also brought a new level of scrutiny to the election process. The voting procedures are now public in a way they never have been before.


The voting process works in rounds and continues until a candidate gets over 50% of the vote. The voting population is made up of four main groups.


First, and accounting for 50% of the total voting population, are the heads of the youth and adult soccer associations from around the country.[3] Second, and making up approximately 20% of the vote is the “Pro Council,” which is made up of representatives from the professional leagues in the country including MLS, USL, and the NWSL.[4] However, within that group MLS holds a significant majority and makes up 14% of the allotted 20%.[5] The third group is the “Athlete Council,” which consists of former USMNT, USWNT, US Paralympic team, beach soccer, and futsal athletes.[6] The athlete council also makes up approximately 20% of the voting population, but, interestingly, are the only group that votes as a block. [7]


Because there was no polling information or any real way to make accurate predictions, the only recognized front runner was Kathy Carter, who had already secured the MLS vote before the election. Outsider candidates like Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, and Hope Solo were very active campaigning on social media, while Cordeiro and Carter focused on wooing the professional council and youth/adult federations instead.


The Athlete Council had not yet agreed on a candidate the night before the election.[8] Initially, the three contenders were Carter, Cordiero, and Martino, but there was no consensus.[9] Some members of the Athlete Council were allegedly willing to break away from the block, rather than vote for Carter if it came to that.[10]


As the election commenced, Carter and Cordeiro both won approximately 30% of the vote in the first round, while the other candidates received far fewer votes.[11] If Carter had secured the Athlete Council’s vote, she would have gotten the percentage she needed to win right away. However, after several more rounds of voting, more of the federations switched allegiance from the fringe candidates to Cordeiro, and he secured the majority of votes he needed.


Cordeiro’s election was not met with anything close to universal excitement from fans. His history and relationship with out-going president Sunil Gulati has fans across the country afraid of “more of the same” from USSF.[12] As part of his agenda Cordeiro plans to create general manager positions for both the men’s and women’s national teams. Moreover, questions about how exactly Cordeiro was able to secure the Athlete Council vote have emerged as early reports had Carlos Bocanegra, a member of the Athlete Council who voted for Cordeiro, as a front runner for the men’s national team general manager position.[13] Bocanegra has since removed his name from consideration, but the optics are still alarming.[14]


Regardless of how fans may feel the election process and Carlos Cordeiro as the new USSF president, one thing remains clear: the average fan has no influence on the election of the USSF president. The various voting blocks have made their choices, and Carlos Cordeiro is now the USSF president. There is no telling how long it will take for the dust to settle after this election, but in the meantime Cordeiro turns his attention to bringing the World Cup to North America in 2026.





[1] Jeff Carlisle, New USSF President Carlos Cordeiro Must Bring About Positive Change, ESPN (Feb. 11, 2018), http://www.espn.com/soccer/club/united-states/660/blog/post/3379123/president-carlos-cordeiro-must-bring-positive-change-to-united-states-soccer.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Jeff Carlisle, Athlete Council Key to Cordiero’s Election as U.S. Soccer President, ESPN (Feb. 10, 2018), http://www.espn.com/soccer/club/united-states/660/blog/post/3379008/athlete-council-support-keys-cordeiros-election-as-us-soccer-president.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10]Id.

[11]Id.

[12] Steve Brenner, US Soccer Picks New President Frustrating Those Seeking Big Changes, TheGuardian.com(Feb. 10, 2018), https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/feb/10/us-soccer-election-president-carlos-cordeiro

[13]Alicia Rodriguez, Report: ATL's Carlos Bocanegra to Consult on US Men's National Team GM Hire, MLS.com (Feb. 16, 2018), https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2018/02/16/report-atls-carlos-bocanegra-consult-us-mens-national-team-gm-hire

[14] Id.

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