Carlos Cordeiro has been elected as the new president of the United States Soccer Federation after serving as Sunil Gulati’s second-in-command.
Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president since 2006, did not run for re-election after the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
A former Goldman Sachs executive, Cordeiro was considered one of two business-oriented, establishment candidates — along with SUM president Kathy Carter — though during his campaign he called for considerable restructuring of the federation.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Cordeiro said after winning 68.6 percent of the vote. “Thank you to those of you who supported me today. Thank you very, very much. This is incredibly humbling. I want to thank all the candidates for a spirited campaign, all of you, thank you.
“I’d like to thank Sunil and our Board for their tireless service, for introducing me to the game. To those of you who didn’t vote for me, I’m going to work to earn your trust and your support over the next four years. I promise you I’m going to work together with all of you, to bring us together as one united soccer community. Let’s all leave this room today with that in mind.”
Cordeiro’s election deals a blow to those who called for changes in the sport’s national governing body after the World Cup qualifying failure, such as former U.S. players Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, Paul Caligiuri and Hope Solo, whose candidacies all came up short.
It’s also a mediocre result for Major League Soccer, which had supported Carter, the president of the league’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing.
Cordeiro, 61, has served on U.S. Soccer’s board of director since 2007, and has been in his current position since 2016. He also represents U.S. Soccer on the CONCACAF Council and FIFA’s Stakeholders Committee.
His platform included making the office of president more like a chairperson of the board role, with the incumbent working more collaboratively with the board of directors. He also spoke of creating a new technical department to oversee all on-field aspects, including the hiring of coaches.
In business matters, Cordeiro wants to appoint an independent board member to oversee the awarding of future commercial rights contracts. And he said he will seek to make the game more affordable for players and coaches by increasing scholarships and grants.
He was criticized for his proximity to Gulati, but in a surprise move announced his candidacy to replace his colleague well before Gulati confirmed he would not seek re-election.
And Donna Shalala, a former cabinet member in the Clinton administration and a director on the U.S. board, believes “Carlos will be a completely different leader” than Gulati.
“He will do less micro-managing. He will let experts make decisions. He will strengthen the organization and he is very committed to minority kids and expanding our talent pool,” Shalala told the Miami Herald.
“He was a very successful investment banker, so he knows the business side. He’s also warm, very thoughtful, has great interpersonal skills, builds consensus and is extremely well-liked by international soccer leaders.”
Gulati will retain his position as head of the U.S.’s efforts to host the 2026 World Cup in a joint bid with Mexico and Canada. FIFA is expected to award the tournament in June.
ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle contributed to this report.
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