US Soccer to spend $9m fighting lawsuits in 2020 fiscal year

Carlos Cordeiro (Credit: Getty Images)

The United States Soccer Federation will spend approximately $9m on legal fees devoted to various lawsuits in the 2020 fiscal year, which covers the 12 months beginning April 1, 2019.

News of US Soccer’s high expenditure on fighting legal cases emerged at a Board of Directors meeting in Chicago on December 6, when US Soccer chief financial officer Pinky Raina presented a report on the federation’s financial state.

The lawsuits include a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by US women’s national team players against the federation, a similar lawsuit filed by former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo, antitrust lawsuits filed by the defunct second-tier North American Soccer League and sports promoter Relevent Sports, as well as one by the US Soccer Foundation regarding trademarks.

The federation is also facing a claim at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, filed by Kingston Stockade FC and Miami FC, over the its unwillingness to follow Fifa statutes with regards to implementing a system of promotion and relegation within its league system.

US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said the federation has insurance to help fund some of the legal costs of the lawsuits, but that the insurance on one of the cases – believed to be the NASL lawsuit – was “running out.” Previously, US Soccer budgeted around $3m in legal fees, but the rise in lawsuits has forced the federation to adjust its long-term projections.

Elsewhere, it emerged that US Soccer recently interviewed a short list of candidates to replace long-time chief executive Dan Flynn, who stepped down in mid-September, which includes men and women from around the US and one from outside the country.

Cordeiro said US Soccer switched search firms in May because he wasn’t happy with the pool of candidates the first company presented. “They’ve produced an incredible list of people,” he said. “Maybe earlier in the year, there was some hesitancy on the part of candidates to want to come talk to us given a lot of the issues out there. Maybe in September, some of that got clarified, perhaps.”

There is no specific timetable for an appointment. “We don’t want to rush an appointment, and then find out it’s the wrong appointment,” Cordeiro said. “Because this person is going to take us to [the 2026 World Cup] and beyond.”

Chief commercial officer Jay Berhalter, the brother of USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, is believed to be still in the running despite a potential conflict of interest.

US Soccer is also looking to move out of its Soccer House headquarters in Chicago’s South Loop because it needs more room due to an expanded workforce. It will look to lease space elsewhere in the city for a few years while it figures out a long-term plan.

The work environment is also changing in response to criticisms posted on the networking site glassdoor.com in June, which included poor pay, long hours and a “toxic” work culture. Cordeiro called those posts a wake-up call.

“Up until very recently, we still managed US Soccer like it was a 50-person organization run out of some person’s kitchen,” Cordeiro said. “Glassdoor was a good wake-up call because it did alert us to potentially some tremor lines.”

In other news, US Soccer vice president Cindy Parlow Cone will take on US Adult Soccer president John Motta in a vice presidential election in February. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber also revealed the 2020 MLS Cup final will be on November 7.