Exactly four months to the day its Men’s National Team was eliminated from World Cup 2018 qualifying, the United States Soccer Federation has announced that Carlos Cordeiro will replace Sunil Gulati as the organization’s next President after three rounds of voting were cast early Saturday morning.
Corderio was part of an eight-candidate pool that included: Kathy Carter, head of Soccer United Marketing; ex-players Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, Paul Caligiuri, and Hope Solo; and lawyers Steve Gans and Michael Winograd.
Cordeiro, a 61-year-old former Goldman Sachs executive, is also the active USSF Vice President. His primary aim has been to make U.S. Soccer globally competitive and has strongly stated on numerous occasions that he wants the U.S. to host the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Women’s World Cup. Perhaps Cordeiro’s strongest campaign goal, however, involves his plan to reallocate a significant portion of the USSF budget toward various training and scholarship programs at the youth level for both players and coaches.
The “pay-to-play” model is a popular antagonist in the conversation about why the U.S. lags so far behind other nations on the world soccer stage. Experts argue that socio-economic factors play a major role in U.S. club and I.D. player selection processes and many talented players are falling through the cracks because they aren’t being identified at a proper age. Further, coaching licenses and referee fees are so outrageously priced in the U.S. compared to countries like Germany, Italy, and England. The U.S. continues to have an embarrassingly low number of licensed professionals in these roles when compared to other countries and Cordeiro’s plan to address this discrepancy would be a top priority for the consitituency.
Carter was considered the favorite in some circles, having worked alongside MLS commissioner Don Garber and departing president Sunil Gulati. She was viewed as the individual most likely to prioritize wage reform for the U.S. Women players and possesses the qualifications needed to pursue hosting rights for the 2026 and 2027 World Cups for North America.
Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino played the primary opposition to Cordeiro and Carter in the election. Over the past few months, the ex-USMNT players have used their platforms as Fox Sports (Wynalda) and NBC Sports (Martino) soccer analysts to generate massive fan support on social media. Wynalda and Martino promised sweeping changes to several aspects of the U.S. soccer model that are viewed as problematic in their current state, including the lack of perceived diversity, the pay-to-play model, coaching and referee licensing costs, etc. Both were also vocal about their plans to address the static professional tier system in Major League Soccer, and promised to fight to implement a pyramid promotion/relegation model that are common throughout the world’s most popular domestic leagues. This stance was very popular amongst fans and Tier 2 U.S. soccer leagues, but likely lost them key votes from the MLS.
The voting process lasted three rounds and Cordeiro and Carter created distance between the rest of the candidates early on. After one round, Cordeiro had 36.3% of the votes with Carter right behind him at 34.6%. Wynalda and Martino landed at third and forth with 13.7% and 8.6%, respectively. Without a clear majority, the vote went two more rounds while Caligiuri, Winograd, and Gans all dropped out. Cordeiro jumped forward another 5.6% after the second round making his selection almost inevitable.
Shortly after the election results were announced, Cordeiro’s victory was met with quite a bit of scrutiny on social media. It’s worth noting that, despite serving as the Vice President under Sunil Gulati, Cordeiro was required to win election to the position much like today – he was not merely appointed by Gultati and instead won over 70% of the vice-presidential election vote. There is much to be done in terms of overhauling the soccer system currently in place in America: Pay-to-Play, wage disparity, player identification, promotion/relegation and a logical professional tier system, etc. Let’s just hope the new President to be up to the task.