Thursday, July 19, 2018

I either want local or I want elite

A while back DJ Charlie Blac made a guest post about the USSF Presidential Election for us... last week I posed a screen shot of something that he had written on Facebook and it has sparked quite the response.

I really think that he brings up points that should make every person who has said "the way MLS is ran was necessary to make sure it survived" analyze their thought process behind that statement.

Keep speaking up on social media and make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtags when you are speaking about not only promotion and relegation but reforming the system in any way!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How the USSF's Professional League Standards hinder reform

A common refrains from anti-#ProRelForUSA advocates is..

They just need to start doing Pro/Rel if they really want to do it. Thing about that is... the USSF's Professional League Standards (PLS) make it not possible to pull off movement of clubs up and down the ladder of D1/D2/D3 as it is currently structured by the USSF.

In my opinion and others (READ THIS GREAT MIDFIELD PRESS ARTICLE and THIS ONE)  it is going to take working outside of the USSF PLS system to start to create a pyramid based on merit. Hopefully those with the money to make it happen finally can see what so many of us have known for a long time. The system is rigged against those who want to see results matter more than expansion fees.

Keep speaking up on social media and in the stands! Make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag every time you engage in a reform minded conversation so that others can see and join in!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

MLS Revenue From Pay to Play Youth Soccer and the DA

A while back I read an article about FC Dallas making $15,000,000 per year off of their pay-to-play youth academy that features 5,000 kids.


I just haven't been able to stop thinking about this question...

What is the real purpose of the DA system in the US? Is it to create a better development environment for youth players or is it to aggregate the best paying customers in youth soccer in to the academies of the largest names in the biggest cities in the US?

Those academies would just happen to generally be MLS ones...

Let's take for example the Chicago Fire Jr's system. They have 16,000 players in their pay-to-play system from all over the country! How much revenue is this generating for the owners of the Fire?

Colorado Rapids have 4,000 kids... just those two teams make 20,000 more players.

I'm sure that these kinds of numbers are not unique across MLS. MLS owners are generating HUGE amounts of revenue off of the pay-to-play system of youth soccer in this country.

This expense and its reasoning attributed to Don Garber (IN THIS ARTICLE)...

"Ownership groups are starting to ask their front offices for more return on the investment. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said MLS teams spend north of $50 million per year on academies, with an aim on that money eventually bringing a return to the first team."

Seems to be a little bit off... the ROI is not in players for the First Team, but for money on the bottom line.

The DA system was created by the USSF in 2007 and we can see in about a decade MLS has turned this in to a huge piece of their model for profitability. I don't think it is an unfair question to ask if Pay-to-Play youth soccer is the most profitable part of MLS? Or even if it is the largest part of their revenue?

We need system reform in the United States if we ever hope to get out from underneath this system that depends on youth players parents paying exorbitant fees to play soccer.

Read my article on how it is impossible to divorce Pay-to-Play from #ProRelForUSA here.

Please keep speaking up on social media and calling for #ProRelForUSA!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How the rest of the world operates leagues

The purpose of the blog is to educate, to myth bust, and to answer commonly asked questions about our system in the United States and the rest of the world. There is a common misconception that when our seasons are and how they are structured is just a choice that is/can be made in a vacuum concerning the global context of the game. It can't...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

American Clubs vs Global Clubs

If you are not following Daniel Workman on Twitter. You absolutely need to be...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Every Community Matters

Last week I took a trip to McDowell County WV...

I know that #ProRelForUSA = HOPE.

Every community big and small deserves the ability to dream. Every child in this country who loves the sport deserves the ability to be able to dream about their place in the sport. Continue to speak up for lost and forgotten communities in this nation and advocate for #ProRelForUSA and #ReformUSSF.

To rob all opportunity from clubs, players, coaches, fans, communities, and owners in the attempt to create parity and security for the top few teams/owners.... seems un-American.

Happy July 4th everyone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Why covering the USSF Audited Financials is important.

On June 27th I posted a series of tweets with links to a bunch of my older articles trying to give some background information to those new to the conversation about the recently released Audited Financials from the USSF...

This story is "something", it absolutely is not "nothing"... the game in this country needs an active press (or at least a couple writers) who keep those in charge honest. Whether these dealings have been against the law or not I don't know for certain. What I do know is that none of this looks good, all of it smells fishy, and there is absolutely no way that how this sport is being governed is producing excellence in any way shape or form.

A couple of years ago basically nobody in the "soccer media" was writing about Soccer United Marketing and even less than that knew what it was in the general soccer public. Today you can at least find something out about it and it has started to enter the conversation. The general soccer public is starting to notice that the two are basically one and the same in the United States. Soccer United Marketing and the USSF... soccer politics... how the game is managed from u4 to the USWNT... it is all tied together... it all matters. The people involved in every way with the game deserve to know what is going on.

It is up to the media to let us all know.

Convince your editor to let you write an article about the recently released Audited Financials and the issues concerning them. Let the general soccer public know how much it matters. Let them know there is more to what is going on that the potential next picks for the USMNT manager position.

The game deserves it.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Why is nobody writing about the released USSF Financials?

So I just did a few quick google searches to try to find some articles about the USSF Financials that were released about a week ago.

HERE? or maybe HERE will get better results?

Nope... So I can only find a grand total of TWO articles on them from the entirety of the soccer "media". I am using the word "media" very broadly here since one of them was written by me on this blog and one was by Miki Turner on his website.


So how many people out here cover soccer in the United States? Literally none of them wanted to write about the Audited Financials that were such a big deal at the USSF AGM that they were brought up a member of the National Council within minutes of the end of the election?

This post I found on Reddit kind of sums it up nicely.

Maybe after the World Cup games today you can spend a few minutes and do a little digging and write something about the Audited Financials... they are kind of a big deal.

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