The National Soccer Hall of Fame has created
a revamped election process for its inductees, beginning with the Class of 2021.
The process has been subject to intense scrutiny, in particular the selection of players. That's in part because the eligible players are competing in so many different levels -- men's and women's national teams and men's and women's pro leagues.
Some obvious selections have received less than the 66.7% of the vote necessary for selection, notably Hope Solo, considered the greatest women's goalkeeper of all time, in 2020. In 2019, Abby Wambach (with Hall of Fame members at her induction ceremony) got in but received less than 81 percent of the vote -- even though she was at the time the greatest scorer in the history of international soccer.
The sheer number of eligible players and voters have spread the votes over so many players that few have managed to reach the threshold number. In five out of the last six years, just one player was selected for induction.
“Over the past several years, it was apparent the current election process was not allowing us to fully meet our mission of honoring those who have made significant contributions to the game in the United States,” said National Soccer Hall of Fame Executive Director Djorn Buchholz. “Since the rebirth of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, we started a thorough evaluation of the election procedures and discussed possible options with our Board of Directors. With these appropriate changes in place prior to voting for the 2021 class, we are looking forward to recognizing deserving Players, Veterans and Builders for many years.”
Player Eligibility. Players are eligible for consideration if they have been:
(1) retired for at least three full years and no more than 10 years; and
(2) capped at least 20 times for the USA at the senior level,
OR have five years of experience in a U.S. pro league with at least one Best XI selection.
Click here for complete Player, Veteran and Builder eligibility criteria.
Voting Process. The new process is modeled after in part what the Basketball Hall of Fame does with two committees to oversee the voting in two stages:
Screening Committees. Three committees -- 18 members on the Players Committee and nine each on the Veterans Committee and Builders Screening -- will vote to create the final ballots for consideration for the respective Voting Committees.
As an example, the Players Committee members will vote 1-20 on 20 players to be considered for the final ballot, and the top 20 vote getters go on the final ballot. By comparison, the 2020 final ballot consisted of 42 players.
Voting Committees. The three committees -- 48 members on the Players Committee and 24 each on the Veterans Committee and Builders Committee -- will vote to determine who will be elected to the Hall of Fame in each cycle.
-- One big change will be that the Screening and Voting Committees will be able to communicate via video or teleconference to have informational discussions on the selections.
-- The members will serve three-year teams, but the initial members of the Screening and Voting Committees will be assigned 1, 2 or 3-year terms to ensure that one-third of the Committee will be up for renewal each year moving forward. (The Voting Committees will include all Screening Committee members.)
-- The committees will be split evenly between Hall of Fame members, members of the media and soccer historians and coaches and Administrators with U.S. Soccer or U.S. first division experience.
-- The number of voters will be greatly reduced from the previous process. In 2020, kenn.com reported there were 178 votes cast.
Class Composition. The typical class with consist of three or four inductees:
Player: 2 (top two vote-getters receiving 50+ percent)
Veteran: 1 (top vote-getter receiving 50+ percent)
Builder: 1 (top vote-getter receiving 50+ percent)
If there is either no Veteran or no Builder inductee, then a third Player will be selected if he or she is named on at least 66.7% of the ballots.
If there is no Veteran and no Builder inductee, then a third Player will be selected if he or she receives at least 50% support.
Other changes ...
-- Player eligibility has been expanded to create a path for players from the U.S. extended national team programs (men’s and women’s Para 7-a-Side, men’s and women’s beach soccer and futsal).
-- The Builder category will now be broken into separate groups that will be rotated on an annual basis every four years: only referees, coaches, other contributors – including owners and administrators – will be considered for induction. Every fourth year, all builders will be considered for election.
Builder Rotation (Four-Year Cycle)
2021: All Builders
2025: All Builders
2029: All Builders
The changes were approved by the Hall of Fame board of directors, which consists of U.S. president Cindy Parlow Cone, former USSF president Dr. Bob Contiguglia (the Hall of Fame chairman), former U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, U.S. Adult chairman John Motta and Hall of Fame inductee Cobi Jones.