U.S. Soccer membership set to decide governance changes -- a look at the proposals

U.S. Soccer will hold an extraordinary session of its National Council on Oct. 23 to vote on changes to its by-laws to comply with changes to federal law regarding the representation of athletes on sports national governing bodies.

Book of Reports: Extraordinary National Council Meeting

Changes to the voting structure to increase the representation of athletes from 20 percent to 33.3 percent among the federation's membership and on its board of directors and committees must be approved by the end of the year.

A 33-person governance task force consisting of representatives from each of the five federation membership councils has been meeting since May to try to reach a consensus on how to comply with the changes made as part of a broad overhaul of the antiquated Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act.

The effect of the new law will be to increase the ability of the Athletes to control the election of officers and otherwise swing votes on the National Council.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone and the Task Force have offered one set of proposed amendments while another group consisting of the youth and adult bodies has made its own proposals.

The major disagreement is over the increased composition of the board of directors, which dictates policy and oversees the day-to-day running of the federation's affairs.

What makes the task so difficult is that changes to the federation's by-laws require two-thirds of the vote of the National Council.

Current U.S. Soccer Board
President 1 vote
Vice President, 1 vote
Adult, 2 votes
Youth, 2 votes
Pros, 2 votes
At-Large, 1 vote
Independent, 3 votes
Athletes (20%), 3 votes
Total voting members: 15.
Note: Past President and Secretary General are non-voting members of board.

Proposed U.S. Soccer Board (Task Force/Cone)
President, 1 vote
Vice President, 1 vote
Adult, 2 votes
Youth, *4 votes (+2)
Pros, 3 votes (+1)
At-Large, 1 vote
Independent, 2 votes (-1)
Athletes (33.3%), 7 votes (+4)
Total voting members: 21 votes.
*Youth Council chairperson, plus three delegates elected by Youth Council. Each national association (USYS, US Club and AYSO) must have one delegate on the board.
Note: Past President (for one year after the election of a new president) and Secretary General will be non-voting members of board. The president will make one of the Independent director positions non-voting.

Proposed U.S. Soccer Board (USASA/USYS/US Club/AYSO)
President, 1 vote
Vice President, 1 vote
Adult, 2 votes
Youth, *4 votes (+2)
Pros, 2 votes
At-Large, 1 vote
Independent, 2 votes 
Athletes (33.3%), 7 votes (+4)
Total voting members: 20 votes.
*Youth Council chairperson, plus one delegate elected by Youth Council and one each elected by US Club and AYSO.
Note: Past President and Secretary General are non-voting members of board. The first year of each staggered three-year term of the three Independent directors is non-voting.

Other proposals ...

Membership composition. Until now, the Athletes have 20 percent of the vote, the three councils have equal shares of the votes amounting to about 25 percent each of the vote. The remaining share consists of the votes of individuals and individual affiliates with one vote each. The two proposals take slightly different approaches to giving Athletes 33.3 percent of the vote.

The Task Force/Cone proposal calls for Athletes to have 33.3 percent of the vote and the three councils to have equal shares of 20 percent each with weighted vote total of 1,500 to be divided among the Athletes (500 votes), three councils (300 votes each) and individuals and individual affiliates (100).

The USASA/USYS/US Club/AYSO proposal simply changes the percentages for the Athletes from 20 to 33.3 percent of the vote.

Election of officers. Instead of simple majority vote, no matter how many candidates and no matter how many rounds it takes, both proposals call for two-thirds of the vote to be elected if there are three or more candidates. They formalize the elimination of the candidate with the lowest vote total after each round of balloting until there are only two candidates left, the winner then being the candidate with the majority of the vote.

Majority threshold votes. Instead of majority votes, both proposals call for 60 percent vote to sustain the board's decisions in certain situations: the change to a state association's boundaries and membership fees by both proposals and a complaint against a state association in the proposal offered by the USASA/USYS/US Club/AYSO group.

7 comments about "U.S. Soccer membership set to decide governance changes -- a look at the proposals".
  1. Bob Ashpole, October 16, 2021 at 12:42 a.m.

    No reform here it sounds like. The require is and has been for amateur athletes to participate. Not former athletes or professional athletes.

  2. Beau Dure replied, October 16, 2021 at 8:06 a.m.

    Bob, we've been through this. The definition of amateur in the Stevens Act includes all athletes who do or can represent their countries. It's archaic wording, yes, but that's how it is. 


  3. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2021 at 4:54 p.m.

    Yes we have, the only exception to the requirement that amateur athletes be engaged in current amateur competitions is for individuals have represented the US in a past international amateur competition within the past 10 years. 

    The statute is clear and USSF carries current records of which athetes are amateur and which are professional. USSF also prohibits professional athletes from competing in amateur events.

    While I agree that it makes some sense to interpret the Olympics competition as beinig an international amateur competition, even though it is not, USSF uses that as an excuse to open the door to counting all professional athletes and former professional athletes. In effect USSF shuts the amatuer athlete out of any meaningful role in its organization.

    USSF does not even meet the most fundamental reaquirement of having in its charter as an express objective the promotion of amateur soccer.   

  4. Wallace Wade, October 16, 2021 at 8:55 a.m.

    So, the definition is not accurate. No amateur representation then. More of the same charade and shell game. Got it.

  5. Richard Groff, October 16, 2021 at 3:40 p.m.

    The Task Force proposal has all major soccer organizations directly represented on the US Soccer Board of Directors. Opportunity to have a united vision to grow the sport.  Elite athletes with 33.3 percent of the leadership positions will have greater responsibilities to manage the issues challenging US Soccer.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2021 at 4:57 p.m.

    USSF is a trade organization that is dedicated to the promotion of the soccer industry, both professional soccer and "pay-to-play" soccer, which is hardly for the benefit of the amateur athlete or their parents.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2021 at 5:02 p.m.

    In case you don't understand, soccer organizations are not current individual amateur athletes and they never took the field in any amateur international match. A "representative" of an amateur--even a hundred of them--is not an amateur athlete either.

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