U.S. Soccer VP race: Meet the candidates

There are four candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer vice president that has been vacant since Cindy Parlow Cone became president following Carlos Cordeiro's resignation a year ago.

The election to fill the final three years of Cone's term as vice president will be held on Saturday at U.S. Soccer's first virtual National Council meeting. (Cone is running unopposed to fill the final year of Cordeiro's term as president.)

As it did in the contested election for president that Cordeiro won in 2018, U.S. Soccer's Athlete Council, the 20-player council that holds 20 percent of the vote, asked the candidates to answer questions about how they envision their role and how they would address federation and soccer issues.

Soccer America has included their answers to three questions:

-- U.S. Soccer's 2-3 most pressing issues;
-- How to make soccer more accessible to underserved communities; and
-- Their view on the vote by the Board of Directors to repeal policy 604-1, requiring national team players to stand for the national anthem.

U.S. Soccer: Vice President election Q&A

Cobi Jones (Los Angeles).
-- U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer (U.S. men's record 164 caps, three appearances in World Cups and one in Olympics).
-- Broadcaster, soccer celebrity and pro club owner.

Bio | Conflicts Disclosures | Athlete Council Q&A

1. If called to lead the Federation, what are the 2-3 most pressing issues currently facing U.S. Soccer that you would like to address? Please describe your leadership style and how you would use it to address the issues listed above?

In my view, the most pressing issues are: representation and access, “pay to play challenges” and gender equity.  My leadership style is "solutions-oriented” and my approach will be:

-- First and foremost, to acknowledge there is a problem.
-- Second, to bring individuals and groups together to develop solutions.
-- Finally, to find the best practices and empower the various organizations to implement them.

I believe that we should take a look at the “business of US Soccer” and decide if we are getting the best value for our money and are applying resources in the right areas.

2. What strategies would you propose to make the game more accessible to underserved communities?

I believe that we need to first establish a will and commitment to do so.  A key strategy is to create “safe places” for our kids to play.  I will propose working in inner cities to create access to blacktops for mini soccer pitches and available green space for small-sided fields.  This initiative will require us to partner with groups that are already doing this.  To ensure the appropriate project management and accountability, I will establish a committee or task force to focus on implementation and establishing local programming.

3. The Board of Directors voted over the Summer to repeal policy 604-1, requiring National Team players to stand for the National Anthem. It will now come to a vote before the National Council. What is your view on this policy? What would you say to National Team players choosing to peacefully protest before a game?

This of course is a sensitive topic that goes to people’s core beliefs.  At this time, compromise, consideration and compassion are needed.  We need to give players the chance to demonstrate that all are not treated equal under the First Amendment. I would support National Team players to peacefully protest or not, before a game. That is the beauty of our country -- that you are allowed the choice.

Jim Sadowski (McLean, Virginia).
-- Metropolitan DC-Virginia Soccer Association president for 18 years.
-- Attorney.

Bio | Conflicts Disclosures | Athlete Council Q&A

1. If called to lead the Federation, what are the 2-3 most pressing issues currently facing U.S. Soccer that you would like to address? Please describe your leadership style and how you would use it to address the issues listed above?

The three most pressing issues currently facing U.S. Soccer are:  (1) how to get everyone back on the field safely in a COVID-19 environment; (2) the financial crunch created by a combination of COVID-19 wiping out revenue sources and millions of dollars being spent on legal expenses; and (3) how to address the recent amendment to the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (“Amateur Sports Act”) given the compliance deadline of December 31, 2021 and the impact that legislative change will have on the membership voting structure.  Note that I believe these three issues to be the most pressing, but not necessarily the most important, in terms of the long term success of U.S. Soccer.
I can’t say that I can jump in to help solve Pressing Issue No. 1 as that issue is dependent on how effective medical and other measures are in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and treating the disease.  I could help reach out to the membership about what specific help they need from U.S. Soccer to safely and quickly get their players back on the field.  Since I live near Washington, D.C., I could reach out to and meet in person with representatives of the Biden administration and Congress to try to expand federal aid to sports organizations, like U.S. Soccer, that have been hit very hard by the pandemic.

For Pressing Issue No. 2, I could look at the budget in detail to evaluate areas where spending could be reduced and areas where revenue could be improved.  I could also help by reviewing the status of all pending litigation, providing my legal and personal opinion on the best path forward, and meet directly with the Plaintiffs in those cases for settlement purposes.  I have nearly twenty-five years of legal experience in business disputes, including lots of experience in dispute resolution.  During my career as a lawyer I have helped clients favorably resolve hundreds of contested cases, several of which were emotionally charged and involved millions of dollars in damages.
For Pressing Issue No. 3, I would first need to meet with Cindy to find out what her plan is to address and involve the membership in a national discussion about how U.S. Soccer plans to implement the recent amendment to the Amateur Sports Act.  As a lawyer I am very familiar with statutory construction, researching legislative history, and formulating compliance plans.  I am also very familiar with U.S. Soccer’s bylaws and policies, having proposed amendments multiple times.  I believe that I am the only candidate that has actually proposed changes to the player registration fee structure.  I did that because reducing the costs of affiliation is important to the MDCVSA’s members, and so that we could start a national conversation about costs because everyone should have access to the game.  My experience with successfully changing USASA bylaws, the USASA insurance program, and USSF policy, often in the face of heated opposition, makes me an ideal person to help Cindy try to build a consensus on any proposed bylaw change involving voting strength.

The four issues that I would like U.S. Soccer to focus on in the short and long term are:  Breaking Down Barriers, Investing in Player Development, Making Larger Investments in the Referee Program, and Making Strategic, Long Term Investments in Facilities and Fields.  Breaking Down Barriers is another way of saying making soccer affordable for everyone by reducing player fees and growing soccer in areas where we have a small footprint (inner cities, rural areas) so that everyone can participate.  “Investing in Player Development” means finding a cost effective, successful way to prepare our players for international competitions by either taking advantage or our existing youth programs or trying a new or different approach to player development given that the Development Academy is gone.  “Making Larger Investments in the Referee Program” means improving referees from the bottom up, not just at the top.  “Making Strategic, Long Term Investments in Facilities and Fields” means recognizing that we need to think long term and secure our future by having great facilities and soccer complexes that we can call our own, which will also reduce our dependency on others for quality places to play.
 
2. What strategies would you propose to make the game more accessible to underserved communities?

U.S. Soccer should find ways to lower costs, provide for scholarships/grants to underserved communities, and develop mini-pitches and field complexes in underserved areas through public/private partnerships.  U.S. Soccer could also leverage its business partners, sponsors, etc. to give back to the underserved communities through grants and scholarships.  Giving back to the community in very specific ways can be a provision that is included in every major vendor contract that U.S. Soccer signs.  U.S. Soccer could also develop a “how to start and maintain a soccer league” manual that provides a roadmap for how to start and successfully run a youth soccer league, much like a recipe in a cook book helps a new cook make a great meal.

3. The Board of Directors voted over the Summer to repeal policy 604-1, requiring National Team players to stand for the National Anthem. It will now come to a vote before the National Council. What is your view on this policy? What would you say to National Team players choosing to peacefully protest before a game?

This is a very difficult question because it involves a deep, intense personal choice.

I was disappointed when the repeal announcement was made for two reasons.  First, my understanding is that this policy was repealed in executive session.  In my opinion, using an executive session to discuss and vote on either policy or bylaw changes is contrary to the spirit of open meeting laws and U.S. Soccer’s status as a non-profit organization.  Decisions made in executive session should be limited to only those decisions in which open meeting laws indicate that it is appropriate, such as when making confidential hiring decisions.

Second, my father was a Marine and my brother served on several tours in Iraq and elsewhere for the U.S. Army before his retirement, so I personally know that respect for the American flag and the playing of the United States national anthem are extremely important to our service members, many of whom put their lives in harms way or paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.  So for that reason I am opposed to national team players violating the solemn, respectful ceremony that the playing of the national anthem represents to promote a cause that they support, no matter how worthy the cause.  I also believe that kneeling during the national anthem can be construed as a sign of division, not unity.  We are the United States Soccer Federation.  The policy applies to players representing the United States when the United States national anthem is being played.  The playing of any team’s national anthem, when the entire crowd is asked to stand (out of respect) with hats removed (out of respect) and with hands on heart (another sign of respect) or at attention (our service members) should be a respectful, solemn, unifying occasion.  To me, letting players kneel while the national anthem is being played dishonors this solemn ceremony.  I would tell an athlete that, while I respect their personal choice, there are other ways to raise awareness on important issues without being disrespectful to our service members.

I also remember that when Policy 604-1 was initially passed, what followed was a standing ovation by the National Council, so the National Council was unified behind Policy 604-1.  The playing of the United States national anthem has been, and always will be, my favorite part of the game.  At a time when our country needs more unity, standing during the national anthem is a sign of unity, just like our fans show unity when the big flag comes out when our national anthem is played.

Bill Taylor (Boise, Idaho).
-- Idaho Youth Soccer Association president for the last 10 years.
-- Neuroradiologist.

Bio | Conflicts Disclosures | Athlete Council Q&A

1. If called to lead the Federation, what are the 2-3 most pressing issues currently facing U.S. Soccer that you would like to address? Please describe your leadership style and how you would use it to address the issues listed above?

Recovering financially from the Pandemic.  This in a large amount will be solved once we can safely get fans back into stadiums and sponsorships back on track.

Growing the game from the grassroots, this is something that has been talked about for several years but has mostly been ideas and very little action so still has a long way to go.

Create a better relationship between all the US Soccer members whether it is Athlete, Adults, Youth, or Pro in order to understand the challenges that we all individually face and that other members might not be aware of. This will allow us to face those challenges together and help each other grow a better national organization.

Referee growth and retention. Often overlooked but this is a vital area of the game.

My leadership style is one in which I blend my experiences in medicine coupled with business and finally my coaching on the field.  I believe that as leaders we always have problems to solve.  There are a myriad of ways to solve them, however I have found that bringing people with a Diverse background of thought/ideas, couple with collaboration across the membership often leads to the best chance of success. 

2. What strategies would you propose to make the game more accessible to underserved communities?

The cost to play and access to facilities are two of the biggest barriers for the underserved communities.  I would strongly support the current efforts of the Pro/Youth organizations of making the Scouting and ID programs free.  This sends a clear message to the youth landscape where parents are paying a lot of money in order to “scouted”.  It changes the motto from “you have to come find us” to “stay local and WE will find you.”  For the first time in our soccer history we would start to see what the True player pool looks like as we unlock the barrier of cost.  This will not eliminate all costs related to playing the game but the trickle down effect of this process will make a significant dent.

Additionally I am in favor of collaborating with US Soccer Foundation in the conversion of basketball/tennis court spaces to futsal / small sided courts particularly in the underserved communities.  This coupled with bringing futsal to the schools through PE has the potential of truly growing the game while providing space for kids and adults to play freely.

3. The Board of Directors voted over the Summer to repeal policy 604-1, requiring National Team players to stand for the National Anthem. It will now come to a vote before the National Council. What is your view on this policy? What would you say to National Team players choosing to peacefully protest before a game?

This is an area where because of my background being raised by a father who served in WWII and was a prisoner of war for 3.5 years and helping him when I was growing up place flag poles for people in our community as a service.  I grew up with a unique perspective of the flag and what it means to my family.

However I pride myself in being open minded and willing to search after and listen to other people’s views even if we differ, especially when we differ.  Over the course of this traumatic year for all of us with the pandemic and civil unrest I wanted to understand WHY others felt the way they did about kneeling during the national anthem.  So I started having conversations and over time this changed my perspective.  Not that I would choose to kneel, but rather that I understood why those that choose to do so feel that it was important for them to have a voice.  I respect the democratic process that went into the decision through the US Soccer BOD. I don’t believe anyone should be forced to do something against his or her will and respect the decision that has been made by the Federation.  And when I look out on the field to watch the WNT game the other day, I saw some athletes standing and some kneeling and felt that we are fortunate to live in such a country of Freedom where we allow differing views to stand and kneel next to one another.  As long as that freedom of thought is preserved on Both sides of the discussion we all win and our differences can make us stronger as there are many more things we agree on than we disagree.

Tim Turney (Versailles, Kentucky)
-- U.S. Youth Soccer, vice chairman and U.S. Soccer board member.
-- Horse farm owner.

Bio | Conflicts Disclosures | Athlete Council Q&A

1. If called to lead the Federation, what are the 2-3 most pressing issues currently facing U.S. Soccer that you would like to address? Please describe your leadership style and how you would use it to address the issues listed above?

There are several issues that are interrelated, the USMNT and the USWNT contracts being one of them. These contracts need to be equitable and fair for all parties involved. Preparation for the renegotiation of our media and commercial rights in 2022, thus insuring our financial viability. We must also embrace and promote diversity in all entities of the federation and its members.

My leadership is one of communication and collaborative efforts of all members, while some financial issues are left to the BOD, others will require all members of the Federation working in harmony. I would lead by example, how I live my life and show respect for others, diversity must be universal, off the pitch and on, from our local neighborhoods and communities to the highest office in the land, we must show respect for all individuals.  

2. What strategies would you propose to make the game more accessible to underserved communities?

Partnering with community centers, schools, YMCA’s, Boys & Girls clubs, and other youth organizations, through State Associations and member organizations. Leveraging the 2026 World Cup will provide more access to underserved communities. Partnering and utilizing available resources in a community are vital, and very different across the country, we must find ways of educating members on the most effective way to partner with local governing authorities.

3. The Board of Directors voted over the Summer to repeal policy 604-1, requiring National Team players to stand for the National Anthem. It will now come to a vote before the National Council. What is your view on this policy? What would you say to National Team players choosing to peacefully protest before a game?

Every person has the right to a respectful peaceful protest, National Team members are no exception. The question is whether during the National Anthem is the appropriate time to protest. Our National Anthem and Flag is a proud symbol of our freedoms, those that sacrificed their life, those that defend us today and tomorrow. Out of an overabundance of respect for these people I do not think protesting during the Anthem is appropriate. There is injustice in our country that needs to be addressed, awareness needs to be in the forefront and we as a Federation, including National Team players need to unite as one voice and Be the Change. National Team players represent our Federation, everyday hard-working people, including our veterans and the countless first responders that put their life on the line every day. I believe there are more effective and meaningful ways to peacefully protest than during the Anthem. Ultimately the decision may be made by the membership at the AGM, my hope is that there not be a need for a policy as our National Team Players would choose to address these serious issues in a more unique and inspirational way, in unison with the entire federation.

6 comments about "U.S. Soccer VP race: Meet the candidates".
  1. Wallace Wade, February 26, 2021 at 8:20 a.m.

    I vote Bill Taylor

  2. James Sadowski, February 26, 2021 at 8:50 a.m.

    Candidate websites:

    Tim Turney:  https://timturney4ussfvp.com/

    Bill Taylor:  https://www.finddevelopplay.com/

    Jim Sadowski: https://united4soccer.com/

    I don't think Cobi has a website for his campaign

  3. frank schoon, February 26, 2021 at 10:15 a.m.

    I wonder why none talked about or even mention supporting the concept of "pickup" soccer and how can we foster, support ways of getting kids to play 'Pickup' without having to really always rely on organizations. It seems like the same ole, same ole, stuff BS again. Hey , what did the last VP accomplished?.....

  4. John Foust, February 26, 2021 at 1:26 p.m.

    As retired Navy I cringe at the sight of any American disrespecting our flag and the many sacrifices it represents.  I immediately am turned off by that gesture and think poorly of the demostrator, who could do something less disparaging and divisive, such as speaking out during interviews, donating half their salary to an youth sports program in need, or volunteering at a VFW post.  Kneeling shuts down conversation, and among my other reactions is viewing the demonstrator as a spoiled, indulged brat who gets paid well to PLAY SPORTS.  Gimme a break - the kneeling will never spark a positive conversation to most of those of us who served in the military.  Racism and police misconduct are a huge problem no doubt - I would like to see how much sacrifice these players have offered in their privileged lives, compared to those they insult with their action, which includes first resonders such as police.  And when the total numbers are tallied for where violence is committed, intra-racial violence dwarfs police brutality by multiple factors.  I'm done with watching US Soccer until they either stop playing the National Anthem, tell the athletes to stay in the loccker room/tunnel, or show some damn respect instead of throwing a hissy fit.  I'm happy to have a conversation with any player who thinks their kneeling is going to accomplish anything positive.  We are more divided as a country now than ever before.  Showing disrespect during the anthem will only further that problem.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, February 27, 2021 at 10:43 a.m.

    Did you realize that the US WNT decided as a team to stop kneeling, do constructive things to advance their political objectives instead, and in fact did not kneel before their last match? Sounds to me that you are not staying current.

  6. Frank Copple, February 26, 2021 at 4:17 p.m.

    I grew up a Catholic and kneeled in front of God. He didn't seem to mind. I feel the same with kneeling for sports. Some stand, some salute, some put their hands over their hearts and others ..? And I am also a Veteran. I pledged to fight for our Constitution. 


    We know that we have many issues, which need to be resolved in our Society. We'll never resolve them without peaceful protest. What could be more peaceful than kneeling? 

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications