In response to Washington Youth Soccer announcing its quest to register its players solely with the U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Youth Soccer announced that it has “formally accepted WYSA's resignation from U.S. Youth Soccer effective as of January 1, 2017" -- a move WYSA states it has not taken.
The Dec. 15 USYS memo to its state associations also announced it was rescinding its offer for Washington Youth Soccer (WYSA) to host the 2017 U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Championships in June and is revoking from WYSA “any and all benefits” associated with U.S. Youth Soccer, including competitions such as the USYS National Championship and the Olympic Development Program (ODP).
The USYS memo stated its actions were a response to a Nov. 21 memo sent to USYS from Washington Youth Soccer in which WYSA advised that its Board had directed staff to begin the process of sole registration with the U.S. Soccer Federation “as soon as possible.”
(Washington Youth Soccer has responded that the USYS memo included "untrue allegations" and that it has not "resigned" from U.S. Youth Soccer.)
On Nov. 30, Washington Youth Soccer CEO Terry Fisher sent a letter to U.S. Soccer CEO & General Secretary Dan Flynn requesting that Washington Youth Soccer “proceed hand in hand with U.S. Soccer in the creation of a NEW 21st Century national youth soccer organization that addresses the critical needs to grow the sport in America.” Fisher’s letter was accompanied by a six-page proposal on the “Sole Registration of Youth Players to the U.S. Soccer Federation,” which included these complaints about the current multi-governing body system:
• “Too many participants at the youth level spend far too much time, energy, and resources chasing false inducements and not enough time in influential and aspirational development situations.”
• “Many technical and coaching experts … have recognized, studied, and discussed the unhealthy focus on results and ‘pay for play’ models that have diminished our ability to enhance performance, increase participation, and raise the level of play in the United States.”
• “The disconnect between the grassroots participants, member organizations, and the Federation is unique when compared to other NGBs [national governing bodies]. Nearly every other NGB offers direct linkage and member benefits associated with that membership.”
• “The current membership programs (namely National Championship Series, Presidents Cup, National League, Regional Leagues, ODP and ODP Championships, American Cup, Awards, ECNL, Premier Leagues, Workshop, etc.) have greatly varying degrees of participation and usefulness to their respective members and do not typically align with Federation best practices.”
• “With the prevalence of self-described academies and national leagues other than the Federation-directed Development Academy (“DA”), the youth soccer landscape has drastically changed in the past decade, however US Club Soccer and US Youth Soccer’s elite player programming has largely been constructed and implemented to protect business aspects, financial considerations, and geographical territory rather than being aligned, cooperative, and complementary to what has clearly become the new tip of the player development pyramid.”
The Washington Youth Soccer suggested a 2018 launch for the U.S. Soccer instituting direct programs.
U.S. Youth Soccer’s response in accepting what it described as “Washington Youth Soccer’s written notice to withdraw US Youth Soccer” as of Jan. 1, 2017, prompted a “Letter to our Membership” posted on Washington Youth Soccer’s web site on Dec. 16 in which Fisher and WYSA president Daren Mancini wrote that Washington Youth Soccer “has not resigned as a State Association member of US Youth Soccer and is taking a measured approach and framing its response. The sky is not falling. Programming continues uninterrupted.”
The letter states that “Due to the complexity and nature of US Youth Soccer’s letter, Washington Youth Soccer has retained legal counsel to address the comments and assertions made.”
U.S. Youth Soccer, founded in 1974, is one of four U.S. Soccer Federation national affiliate members for youth soccer along with U.S. Club Soccer (founded in 2001), AYSO (1964) and SAY Soccer (1967).
In U.S. Youth Soccer’s announcement that it was terminating Washington Youth Soccer’s membership, the memo signed by USYS chair Jesse Harrell and USYS CEO Christopher Moore stated:
“The consequence of WYSA’s action, and the manner in which it was taken, not only threatens their 90,000 registered players, but undermines US Youth Soccer nationally. The future success of US Youth Soccer depends on the ability to attract and keep our members.”
For its part, Washington Youth Soccer says it has for years expressed concerns about the leadership of U.S. Youth Soccer and has been working with "similarly situated State Associations that share a common view … Not one organization with whom we have spoken disagrees with our premise."