Carlos Cordeiro has maintained he is the right man to deliver reform within the U.S. Soccer system after being promoted to become the new president of the national governing body, seeing off the claims of seven rivals in the process.
In what was U.S. Soccer’s first contested presidential election since 1998, Cordeiro (pictured), formerly vice-president to the outgoing Sunil Gulati, secured a four-year term after three rounds of voting. The eight-candidate field also featured Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda.
Former US national team player Caligiuri withdrew after the first ballot after gaining only 0.5 per cent of the vote. Lawyers Winograd and Gans followed suit in the second round after securing zero and 2.4 per cent of the votes, respectively.
The decisive third round of voting saw Cordeiro, who had led the opening two rounds, gain a convincing 68.6 per cent share. Kathy Carter, currently on leave as president of Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, and former men’s national team player Martino gained 10.6 per cent of the vote apiece. Martino’s fellow former national team player Wynalda secured 8.9 per cent, while women’s national team star Hope Solo, a vocal critic of the current regime, secured only 1.4 per cent.
The 61-year-old Cordeiro becomes president after serving in various roles with U.S. Soccer since being appointed as the federation’s first independent director in 2007. Gulati has led the organisation since 2006, but elected not to seek re-election after the failure of the men’s national team to qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
Reforming U.S. Soccer will now be Cordeiro’s key concern, along with working on the joint bid for the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. He said, according to the Associated Press news agency: “I think we have an opportunity to really transform it into a No. 1 sport. I think the demographics favour that. There’s a reason why the millennials identify with soccer, so I think that’s very much in our favour. We have to do a number of things ourselves to make it happen, and make it happen more rapidly.”
Cordeiro and Carter’s closeness to Gulati had been criticised, with their challengers having campaigned for change within U.S. Soccer. “The two establishment candidates, Carlos Cordeiro and Kathy Carter, haven’t just been part of the system, they have created and shaped into what it is today,” Solo said during her presentation on Saturday. “A vote for either one of them is a vote for the status quo.”
However, Cordeiro stated he was the only candidate with the experience and plan to “hit the ground running on day one and deliver the change we need.” He added: “We have made progress, but we need to make more. Today, the status quo is unacceptable. U.S. Soccer needs to change, transformational change. This vote comes down to one simple question: Who can actually deliver that change?”
Gulati will remain as a member of the U.S. Soccer board, as well as a Fifa Council member and chairman of the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup.