Thursday, June 21, 2018

Is MLS leadership exempt from the USSF Conflict of Interest Policy?

From reading though the policy as a layman... it would appear so.


The part in question is here (bold provided for emphasis).

A. Conflicts of Interest 

No Person shall act in any manner which causes him or her to have a direct or indirect interest in or relationship with any outside organization or person that might affect (or that might reasonably be understood or misunderstood by others as affecting) the objectivity or independence of his or her judgment or conduct in carrying out the duties and responsibilities he or she has in connection with the USSF's activities. For purposes of this Policy, “outside organization” shall not include any constituent or affiliated member entities of the USSF provided such Person holds elected office in or is directly employed in a full-time capacity by such outside organization.

That seems pretty cut and dry that full time employees of MLS are exempt from the USSF Conflict of Interest Policy. We may have some foxes in the hen house.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A deeper look at the USSF Audited Financials

Earlier today the USSF Audited financials were FINALLY released.


So let's take a look at some of the stuff held within them.

Well, that doesn't look good. Without even looking at anything else... that looks really bad.

Now let's go a little deeper. The USSF held off on releasing the Audited Financials until AFTER the World Cup vote even though they had them in their possession. .

Now let's take a look at BDO USA, LLP... a very quick Google search brings up some glaringly bad business practices including this one from 2016. The PCAOB issued a report on BDO USA, LLP.

“It appeared...that the Firm...had not obtained sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support its opinion that the financial statements were presented fairly”


This was during the time frame of the USSF Audited Financials. 

This news about the firm is in addition to $6.5B in phony tax shelter losses, Federal Fraud convictions leading to long prison sentences, and issuing false and misleading unqualified audit opinions about the financial statements. 

Why did USSF choose such a potentially shoddy firm to do their audited financials?

Now lets look at the fact that in December USSF Vice President and Presidential Candidate Carlos Cordiero made the statement that he was going to create a new Commercial Rights Committee...

This timeline leads to two possible ways that things happened in December/January concerning the SUM deal with the USSF. The USSF BOD members had already approved the new SUM contract and Cordiero ran on a platform that he was going to make sure that the USSF was going to get the best deal possible... while already signing away his ability to do anything about it or once Cordiero went public with his plan to make sure that the SUM deal was going to be reviewed by people outside of the Garber/Gulati/MLS/SUM power structure a new deal was immediately signed.

Neither of these two options look good.

Now lets take a little deeper look at the business practices of SUM when it comes to dealing with US Men's and Women's National Team media rights.

We know that MLS/SUM sold ESPN, FOX and Univision the 2015-2022 rights to the USNT games in early May 2014. That is 4.5 years before MLS/SUM officially acquired the rights.
The eight-year deals with ESPN, Fox and Univision are priced five times higher than the average annual value of the league’s current media deals.

ESPN and Fox will share the English-language rights to MLS and U.S. Soccer matches over the next eight years.


Could the fact that USSF did not have an official contract with MLS/SUM been the reason why Gulati/Garber/MLS/SUM signed a secret deal so close to the USSF Presidential Election?

We also need to not forget that the USSF renegotiated this no bid marketing deal that didn't improve the monetary guarantee due the federation. We also have a good idea that the original deal is very undervalued on the open market. When we ask who was in charge of negotiating on behalf of the USSF with MLS... Oh, wait... Josh Westerman already discussed that in his great blog piece.
And if you’re wondering if USSF is receiving fair value in the SUM relationship, don’t worry because the Committee is also responsible for reviewing conflicts of interest of the directors and for implementing processes to deal with them. Oh, and from USSF’s side of things, its top employee, well, the Committee is in charge of his performance evaluation and for setting his compensation. That’s right, Section 5 of Bylaw 431 puts Garber (who is absolutely conflicted with respect to SUM) in charge of navigating the SUM transaction on USSF’s behalf and of setting the compensation of the USSF employee with responsibility for negotiating USSF’s side of the deal against Don’s own company. That’s marvelous.

“What are we doing?!”


One last thing for today thanks to the keen eyes of Miki Turner (who you should give a follow if you want to keep up with all the lawsuits that the USSF is dealing with) we can ponder about that just doesn't look good...

Why would the USSF provide different dates in different documents like this? One to the IRS and one to Federal Court. Just doesn't make sense at all.

I just can't stop thinking of the phrase.... "Where there is smoke there is fire..."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

YOU are the USSF

I've been thinking about this all day...

It is important to remember this. The State Adult and Youth Associations that make up the national council and the other organizations involved at that level are USSF. Not the people on the Board of Directors, not the President of the Federation, not the senior staff... the national council... the MEMBERS are the USSF!

I know all of us involved in governance of soccer in this country at whatever level we are involved... whether we are on a board of a local club, a league, the state board, a national board or committee... it is easy for us to fall in to the trap of only thinking about our personal issues we face in our organization that we are a member of and down. We MUST start to think of our place UP the chain of command. What can we do as members of our club board do to help the entirety of local youth or adult soccer not just our club. What can we as league board members do for our league AND state. What can us state board members do to help with the needs of our state AND nationally.

We all have a job to do that requires looking both internally and externally. We all are members of a larger organization. Clubs are members of leagues. Leagues make up the state. States make up the Federation. The Federations make up the regional confederations... who make up FIFA.

It is all tied together. We have to start thinking of it that way and acting like it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What is going on?

I’m sure that many of us have seen this video… we all saw it live and in person at the 2018 AGM. 
USSF CFO Eric Gleason gave us a response of 30-45 days from 2/10/18… 

We are now over 100 days since 2/10/18 and no audited financial statements have been posted on the USSF website for our review. The USSF posted its last audited statements in November 2016. 

What is really going on? Why is this taking so long? I’m not sure exactly, but we should all read Roger Pielke, Jr’s very informative research in to the USSF controlled ‘CA2016’ subsidiary and it’s financials.

“In 2014 the US Soccer Federation, a non-profit charity registered in New York, created a subsidiary non-profit related to the hosting of the Copa America Centenario soccer tournament. Specifically, on 29 October 2014 the USSF set up a single-member LLC, called The CA2016 Local Organizing Committee LLC.
I've reviewed the 2016 IRS 990 form from the CA2016, and this post raises some questions about the numbers reported in that form.”

Mr. Pielke Jr. came up with several very pertinent questions that may have something to do with the time it is taking to finish the report…

“The CA2016 reported $190 million in revenue in 2016 (specifically $189,681,375). CA2016 reported providing a grant of $64,941,805 to the USSF (Schedule I, Part ID, d). USSF 2017 IRS 990 (PDF) reported receiving $50,000,000 from CA2016 (p. 68, Part V (1)).
    Question #1: Why is there a $14,941,805 discrepancy between the two numbers?”

This multi-million dollar one and six more questions that the leadership of our organization need to answer are found in this article… 

These 7 questions do not cover the fact that USSF has not responded to another major  governance concern. Questions have been raised about the USSF being out of compliance with New York state law concerning Non-Profit Charitable Organization reporting and the potential issues with the NY Attorney General that this would bring about. 

Non-profits like the USSF were required to file by February 18th under New York State law with the penalty of doing so being the losing of non-profit status. Currently the USSF is over 90 days late. Are we as members of the organization worried about what the penalty could be? 

Finally, Corporate Governance Lawyer Josh Westerman asks for the USSF… us… to “aim higher” and touches on some very important issues when it comes to how our USSF Nominating and Governance Committee operates compared to industry standards and norms.

As members of USSF, the associations that the board serves, and the clubs that the associations are made of… it is up to us to hold our Federation accountable. It is up to us to make sure that WE are doing all that we can to push this organization forward and to make sure that major questions and concerns like these are addressed. We can't sit on our hands, we must ask questions, we must demand answers…

Chris Kessell
West Side Soccer
Kanawha Valley Soccer League
West Virginia Soccer Association

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Guest Post: Is USMNT's path to success a fan-owned Bundesliga club? by Jay Sorgi

Guest Post from Jay Sorgi

It's a crazy conundrum, this failure of the United States Men's National Team, in a nation with approximately eight million men and boys who play the game, can't field a team that can get to the 2018 World Cup, let alone have a reasonable chance to win it.
We know and have debated on - ad nauseum, but with defeinite reason - every reason why the USMNT has failed, what needs to change about U.S. Soccer and how the almighty dollar can conflict with the mission of winning the world's biggest single team sport event. The fundamental issues, including entry and youth-level, must be solved.

But perhaps at the top, the size of America's military presence in one particular soccer-loving nation could be a tool to help the USMNT gain a major competitive advantage on every other football-playing nation.

The rub: You, the American soccer fans, could be the controller of the direction.
(I don't claim this to be the panacea of the USMNT's problems, nor do I claim to be anywhere near an expert on the sport. This idea is rather meant to be a conversation starter which the soccer community can reject or refine into more of what it should be.)

Here goes:
A majority American fan-owned club that climbs the ranks of the German soccer system and, if/when it reaches the Bundesliga Official, becomes as much of the USMNT as possible within federation rules and their German-born player requirements. In lower leagues, it could be used as a talent developmental tool for U-23 and younger American players.

The club would be based in the south central area of Germany where tens of thousands of American military personnel are stationed, close to Mannheim and Kaiserslautern where the USMNT and USWNT played numerous World Cup matches in 2006 and 2011.

This would allow a major international competitive advantage, as American players would be playing together in European competition (read: NOT MLS) on the same side 12 months out of the year in both club and national team matches, something rarely seen at the top levels.

The key to retaining top American talent would be, of course, money - making sure the top talent would not head to other top clubs. If Christian Pulisic would be on such a squad, but get big money offers from Liverpool (as reported recently), Barcelona or one of the other megaclubs, it would certainly be a battle to keep him or others like him within the club.

However, that wouldn't have to stop top American players from growing together, so long as there is enough capital on hand (read, corporate minority ownership or top sponsorship with deep pockets - very possible considering the American corporate climate) to keep them on the roster.
It could have the US Soccer coaching staff. It could have youth clubs set up both in America and Germany (to fulfill German federation requirements).

Most importantly: MLS doesn't have to own it. You would.

You, the American soccer fan - perhaps through American Outlaws - would set the direction of the club. The US Soccer team's in-season operations would not have rich-pocketed MLS ownership whose main goal is to make money and not have the best interest of American soccer necessarily top of mind.

It would be you. Millions of you running a big part of the show of the team America supports more than any other.

Would US Soccer (sorry about the upcoming baseball pun) play ball? Would they let a fan-owned club be a major developer of their national team?

Who knows. You probably have more insight on that than I would.

Again, this is meant to be a brainstorm to be developed, debated and either fine-tuned or jettisoned in the spirit of wanting the best for my country's most well-known national team worldwide, with the goal of not only returning to, but someday winning the World Cup.

With you, the fan, owning a greater percentage of the direction of it.

(Make sure you comment on this post on Jay's Facebook!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How did I get here?

Four and a half years ago I was just coaching a u8 girls team. I was only doing this because the original coach quit... I never wanted to coach my own child. I hated dad coaches as a kid. I didn't want to do this to any kid, especially mine. Have them hate playing for a team because of me. That said, I've never been one to not give my all when I do something. Especially when I'm dealing with other peoples children. My thinking is, these people have entrusted me with their children so I owe it to them to give it my all. I try to learn everything I can. I start my coaching education via Youtube, classes, clinics, asking questions, watching every coach I can watch, USSF courses, and whatever else I can do to try to learn and get better. 

It's fun, I love coaching.

I start putting on these free skills clinics every week for whatever players want to show up because of the sheer cost of doing private trainings with coaches at the local pay to play club. A few kids show up at first. After a while I'm getting a nice group of 15 to 20 kids a week.

The players on this team start to get better. We start entering our little neighborhood team made up of whatever girls show up in some tournaments. We try to play nice soccer. It takes a while but we end up beating a bunch of teams who pay quite a bit per player. Hearing parents yell at coaches across the field "We pay all this money to get beat by a REC TEAM????"

I'm not going to lie. It felt great.

The players who consistently show up at the skills clinics start to get pretty decent. They show that they want to work. I try to show them HOW to train at home. One kid with one ball for an hour. Jon Townsend had written this amazing 10,000 touches article and I did my best to put it in motion every week for these kids.

A local pay to play club offers me a coaching job if I bring my team over to them. I say thanks but no thanks. I think readers of this blog kind of understand I'm just not on board with the system as it is set up. I felt like I would have been betraying my morals if I would have gone.

While this is happening I get recruited by a different neighborhood club to become their new President.

Thing is... its MY neighborhoods club. When I was a child playing soccer, West Side Soccer Club played at a place called Cabell Field. This space was turned in to a new consolidated elementary named Mary C. Snow a few years back so I kind of thought the club went away. Little did I know the city had built a couple of u12 sized fields at a park on top of a hill on the West Side. We had been driving our kids a few miles out of the way just because the club had shrunk to a point where I didn't even know it existed any more.

When I took over the club only had 13 registered players.

We recruit the city. We grow to 50... then 75.... now 130 players. Our club looks like our community. The West Side and the East End of Charleston are two of the most economically disadvantaged communities in the largest city in the poorest state in the country. That is where we draw kids from. It is also the most diverse area of the state. We raise money to help offset the costs. We do ball and equipment drives to get some kids the stuff they need to play. We have a couple of AWESOME donors who pay for some kids registration fees.

We are the only "Recreational" club in the state to place kids in the WV ODP program. We had 3 over the last 2 years.

We still do our free skills clinics every week just now at our fields. Some weeks we now have 50+ kids. Just this past week we started a partnership with the D2 National Championship University of Charleston's Men's Soccer program where they send a couple players every week to help us do the skills clinics.

Almost three years ago I got together a few donations and a few volunteers and we converted a basketball court downtown in to a Futsal Court. We built a partnership with the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department to allow us to have a gym for free all winter at the Martin Luther King Center. We do a free weekly Futsal meetup/pick up games event every Friday (#FutsalFriday) and have built a nice following. 30 to 40 people a week.

We host multiple coaching clinics per year.

We hosted a USSF licensing course.

We implemented a coaching mentorship program for our volunteer coaches.

We host free cookouts after several game weekends where all of our teams play at home at the same time to help build our community through sport.

We are 100% going to offer EVERYTHING we can for these kids. They deserve it just as much as any kids anywhere. Just because they aren't "Travel" or "Select" or whatever you think they don't work hard? You think they don't want it? They don't want to get good?


As a club president I'm on the KVSL (our league we play in) Board of Directors. I rabble rouse. I get super pissed quite often.

I bitch to my wife, my brother, my parents, my friends.

Change happens. Contrary to what many people think these people who I am mad at aren't bad people. They just know how things work now. They often times don't see a reason to change it. Why change it? It's working. Kids are playing soccer!

I have a different vision I am trying to get in place. Funny thing that happens is... once they see I'm just passionate and not just an asshole there to complain about things they join in. Other clubs start doing some of the same things we do. Skills clinics. Coaching Ed.

These things work. People see the change. Some go beyond what we even do! Those things work.

I keep working. I have to deal with the WVSA on a few occasions. I'm pretty sure they had the same initial reaction that KVSL had to me. Shit.... dude. Thing's are working... why are you trying to rock the boat?

I start trying to make some changes in Adult Soccer in WV. I go to the USYSA Regionals. I get introduced to the WVSA staff.

I go to a WVSA Board Meeting.

I just start showing up.

I don't stop.

I get added to a committee for a state adult soccer club league. 

Next thing you know the VP of Adult Soccer can't go to the USSF Convention.

I get asked to go in his place.

I go. I vote for Wynalda.

I run for a youth position on the WVSA Board.

I win.

It's just started for me. Trust me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to stop trying to change the system for the better.

I'm sure you're asking why all this matters? It is pretty simple. What I would love to see is for you to go get involved. Don't let anybody tell you no thanks. Keep showing up. Be committed. If you want to see change... go make change happen. Literally 1000's of people from all over this country read these blog posts. I'm sure many of you think you are powerless to actually help make change within the system. YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS!

We need every state associations Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every club's Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every league... every everything that has anything to do with this sport in this country to be infused with new blood that is ready and willing to FIGHT FOR CHANGE.

Four and a half years ago I was coaching my first practice with a u8 team. I didn't have a plan... a few months ago I voted for USSF President.

What can you be doing four and a half years from now if you have a plan?