If ever there was an organization that embodied “one step forward, slip in your own vomit and fall back,” it’s U.S. Soccer as it can’t ever seem to keep everything flowing smoothly at the same time.
While it’s mostly been an encouraging year on the men’s side — with the turnover to an incredibly young, exciting roster — there’s still the pay dispute to sort on the women’s side. There was also the exposure of U.S. Soccer’s complete unwillingness, or inability, or both, to do anything about the abuse that was running rampant through the NWSL at the time it controlled it.
So maybe it’s not the best time to nominate Carlos Cordeiro for president again, who just happens to be the jackass who was running things when relations with the USWNT really went to shit, and also was in charge when U.S. Soccer didn’t bother to investigate Paul Riley or other coaches who were making the NWSL a toxic and dangerous place to work.
But that’s exactly what’s happening.
Cordeiro announced his candidacy for the spring election of a new president of U.S. Soccer, the post currently held by Cindy Parlow Cone, who replaced Cordeiro when he had to resign in disgrace.
And it’s that resignation in disgrace that would have made most anyone think that Cordeiro was too radioactive to ever run again. Things turned truly nasty between the federation and the USWNT when filings from U.S. Soccer argued that the women’s team wasn’t as skilled or didn’t require the speed and strength of the men’s team and thus shouldn’t be paid the same, among the highlights. While Cordeiro didn’t author the filings himself, he’s the one in charge and he took the hit. And U.S. Soccer was better off without him.
The timing is particularly galling, as the USWNT’s appeal of the dismissal of part of their lawsuit comes up in the spring as well. The optics of re-electing the man who tore the wound into a gaping one are off, to say the least. And sponsors are definitely watching closely. Which you’d think would rule out Cordeiro’s candidacy from jump.
So what is the urge behind those nominating Cordeiro? It would appear to be what it always is, and that’s people trying to hold onto their fiefdoms. Parlow Cone adopted the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amatueur Athlete Act, which is designed to prevent atrocities like Larry Nassar, in the end. But it does increase athlete representation on the board from 20 percent to 33 percent, and there are those in U.S. Soccer who are afraid that the players themselves would start to direct U.S. Soccer’s direction. The horror, the horror.
Cordeiro’s website makes no mention of changing this, if even possible, but that’s what ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reported.
In addition, and perhaps more importantly, there seem to be fears in U.S. Soccer that Parlow Cone hasn’t committed enough to preparing or promoting the upcoming 2026 World Cup, which just happens to be on these shores. It could be easily argued that still in the middle of a pandemic, and with the USWNT’s dispute to be settled, there’s more than enough on her plate before getting to a tournament still four years away.
Other concerns, based on what Cordeiro addresses on his campaign website, is that some members of U.S. Soccer feel they’ve been left out in the cold on big decisions, like shutting down the Development Academy. Or that the U.S. didn’t bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, nor put forth a candidate for the FIFA Executive Council.
One has to read between the lines a bit, and those pushing for Cordeiro must think he’s going to keep things as they’ve been, or were, in the past. Which helped make U.S. Soccer the mess that it was for so long. The whole thing reeks of those lower on the chain trying to put a death grip on what little they still control.
Still, it’s hard to see how Cordeiro can win again if major sponsors are already reaching for the eject button should he be elected. The fact that he’s here at all is damning to U.S. Soccer already.