By Paul Nicholson
November 3 – Carlos Cordeiro’s entry into the running to become the next president of the US Soccer Federation (USSF) could signify the reign of incumbent president Sunil Gulati is coming to an end after 12 years in charge.
Gulati has not announced whether he would run again or not, but the entry of Cordeiro, a loyal supporter of Gulati at national, regional and FIFA levels, suggests that he would be the continuity candidate for takeover. Crucially for US international interests, he would be the candidate that, with his contacts within FIFA, would best bring home their political ambitions internationally and for the 2026 World Cup.
Gulati has come under increased public pressure in the US following the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after the embarrassing loss to Trinidad and Tobago. Questions have also been asked about the relationship between marketing agency SUM and the USSF and Gulati’s role and rewards within that structure – though the status quo was given a major boost last week with the USSF winning the anti-trust case brought against it by the North American Soccer League (NASL) – see http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/11/06/no-cosmos-nasl-threat-losing-case-ussf-keep-d2-status/
Cordeiro will be running against Steven Gans, a Boston lawyer who has advised youth clubs and English Premier League teams in the US, and Paul Lapointe, a well-known figure at US grassroots league level of American soccer leagues. From the ranks of former players Eric Wynalda, a TV analyst for Fox and former national team player, has said he will run; while Landon Donovan, the standout national team player of the last two generations of US soccer, is also believed to be considering a bid.
Where Cordeiro scores over his opponents is his existing integration into the upper levels of football in the region. He is a vice president of the USSF already and member of the United 2026 board bidding for the 2026 World Cup. He is a council member of the North American (read US) dominated regional confederation CONCACAF and has made his way into the FIFA hierarchy as a member of FIFA’s football stakeholders committee.
An ex-Goldman Sachs banker, he is self funded in his bid though doubtless backed by powerful forces, not all of them football focussed.
Under his ‘Mission 26/27’ election platform he is careful not to criticise Gulati, but makes it clear that he believes the USSF needs a new kind of leadership.
Cordeiro says his focus would be on the business of the federation and that he would increase the budget from the $100 million annually to something closer to $500 million by 2027 – a bold assertion but bankers are normally conservative people, and it once again raises questions over the role of the USSF’s marketing partner SUM and the where the revenue goes that it generates. SUM contributed $25.5 million in 2016 to the federation. Getting to $500 million by 2027 looks like a huge jump.
Cordeiro says there should be a separation between the business and technical sides of the federation and that he would not hire and fire national team coaches – that would be done by a newly appointed technical director.
But Cordeiro is not without ambition for the US teams. In his mission statement he says his vision to “align all levels of US Soccer operations and ensure that the Mens’s national team not only qualifies for by excels at the 2026 World Cup”.
One area where he is qualified to excel is in the politics of the sport. “There is no more strategic priority over the next 224 days than winning the bid to co-host the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2026 and I believe we should host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027,” he says.
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