U.S. Soccer Set To Revamp Role Of President, Create GM Position To Oversee National Teams
U.S. Soccer's BOD during a meeting in Toronto last Sunday "took some initial steps" toward revamping the "responsibilities of several positions," according to sources cited by Jeff Carlisle of ESPN.com. There was "consensus among the board members on some issues." Foremost among the changes is that the president is "going to be more of a chairman of the board and not an executive president." This is a "clear departure from the way the board operated" under outgoing President Sunil Gulati. Gulati's management style "was of someone who took a hands on role in just about every aspect of the USSF's business, often making decisions independent of the board." The board also agreed that a GM-type position "will be created with that person overseeing the men's national team, and that the head coach would report to the GM." The GM is "expected to be hired before the men's national team manager, and would be heavily involved in the managerial search that follows." One source who was at the meeting said, "We're going to run this like a sports organization. How's that for a change of pace?" The expectation is that the changes "will be formalized prior to the USSF's Annual General Meeting in early February" (ESPN.com, 12/14).
CAMPAIGNING BEGINS: The USSF this week revealed eight of the nine candidates for the president position, and SI.com's Grant Wahl noted once the required background checks have been completed, it "will release the final list of candidates who will vie for election." NBC Sports' Kyle Martino, a candidate, said of Gulati's time as president, "We’re coming out of an era with a president who I think deserves credit for growing the game in many ways. The area he can most talk about and brag about is on the business side. Sunil Gulati is a very smart man who took U.S. Soccer over in a time when there wasn’t a big surplus and they needed to grow the commercial side of the business and grow the budget, and he did that. He did that over his tenure." But Martino added, "Where he can’t brag, after missing out on the first World Cup for the men since 1986, is on the soccer side" Martino said of why he is qualified to be president, "I’m going to have to spend this entire campaign helping people see why I’m a good business answer" (SI.com, 12/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Henry Bushnell wrote Martino "doesn’t have all the answers scrawled out on a notepad." The key is "getting people into the game by reducing barriers to entry." Martino and his campaign team have "combed through the federation’s budget to see how money can be spent more efficiently, and earmarked for scholarships, subsidizing coaching licenses, building fields, and so on." He also "wants to dip into" U.S. Soccer’s roughly $150M surplus, and "into the private sector." The main problem with Martino’s ideas is that "many think these decisions shouldn’t be his to make." They "don’t think the president should be actively charting the course" of the USSF or of soccer as a whole in this country (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/14).
CARTER SPEAKS: In a Q&A with YAHOO SPORTS' Bushnell, Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter, also a candidate, said of U.S. Soccer, "We need a cultural shift in the way we operate with all our constituents. There’s a real belief that the federation has been focused on the elite development, and that there hasn’t been as much focus on the base." Carter said of reports she was urged to run for president by Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber, "I’ve actually never sat on the U.S. Soccer board, so I can’t say that I’ve been in the middle of decisions." Carter said of the USWNT fighting for equal pay as the USMNT, "It’s a broader issue than what our athletes make. ... Those teams themselves collectively bargain. So what it is that’s most important to them must be determined by those negotiations." She added, "There should be zero differentiation between the quality of how we treat our teams. Whether that is playing surfaces, whether that is where they stay in hotels, or how they fly. That, to me, is table stakes, that has to be the same" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/13).