In his first major address about the state of American soccer since the USA secured the co-hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup, new U.S. Soccer president Carlos
Cordeiro proposed to form a task force to address a myriad youth soccer issues.
Cordeiro, who spent much of the first four months since his election as president lobbying FIFA members to secure the 2026 World Cup for the USA, Canada and Mexico, spoke Saturday at the U.S. Youth Soccer annual general meeting in Frisco, Texas.
Among the youth issues he touched on in his speech:
-- Stagnant participation numbers;
-- Fragmented and fractured landscape;
-- Overemphasis on winning trophies and making money;
-- Lack of level playing field; and
-- High cost of pay-to-play.
"In partnership with youth organizations like U.S. Youth Soccer," he said, "I’m ready to support the creation of a new task force that would -- for the first time ever -- bring all our youth members together to look at all the challenges we face and how we can do better. We’d have to work out the details and agree on the specific areas of focus."
He then laid out his challenge: If USA, Canada and Mexico could come together to support a United Bid for the 2026 World Cup, youth organizations should do the same to address these youth challenges.
Cordeiro said the World Cup 2026 bid campaign took far more time that he ever imagined it would after U.S. Soccer made it a priority when his predecessor, Sunil Gulati, launched the three-country bid in 2017.
"This wasn’t by any means a slam dunk," he said. "Earlier this year, our bid was not where it needed to be. We had no support in Africa, we were behind in Europe and we hadn’t really engaged in Asia. Given the geopolitics and anti-Americanism, the other bid -- Morocco -- was ahead in many ways."
Cordeiro said the work of the three co-bidders -- represented with co-chairs -- to pool their resources allowed them to work for every one of the 207 votes up for grabs. And it paid off on June 13 with a surprisingly decisive victory: 134-65.
"In essence," he said, "it gives us an eight-year runway to help energize and elevate soccer in America. It will help us inspire a new generation and bring more players into our ranks. It will help generate new revenue that we can invest to make soccer more affordable and develop the very best players, coaches and referees at all levels. It will attract even more fans, whose passion is helping to fuel the phenomenal growth of soccer across America."
As for federation work since his victory on the third ballot of a hotly contested election in Orlando, Cordeiro mentioned what he termed "reforms" that have been made:
-- The creation of new board committees to make the board more involved than it had been under Gulati;
Commercial Development Committee:
Committee Members: Chris Ahrens, Val Ackerman, John Collins, Steve Malik.
Staff Liaison: Jay Berhalter.
Technical Development Committee:
Committee Chairs: Carlos Bocanegra, Angela Hucles.
Committee Members: Don Garber, John Motta, Tim Turney.
Staff Liaison: Ryan Mooney.
-- The restructuring of senior management;
-- Expanded Membership Department;
-- Creation of new general manager positions for the two national teams; and
-- A new Chief Talent and Inclusion Officer to promote equality and diversity