Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Now that we have a copy of the 1988 USSF #ProRelForUSA plan... whats next?

Earlier today Michael Lewis released an article that described the 1988 plan that WAS PASSED by the USSF to create a pyramid featuring 3 tiers, 2 of which were regional, and #ProRelForUSA.

As I've discussed on Twitter quite extensively, I've heard from someone who has read it the original MLS business plan as proposed and accepted by USSF was said to contain provisions for eventual implementation of #ProRelForUSA. My guess is that these provisions were included only 2 years later because of this 1988 plan. Basically, USSF has a plan that was passed by the entire voting body so MLS business plan developers must include #ProRelForUSA to be, for lack of a better term, "legal". If this Pro/Rel provision wouldn't have been included... would it have ever been accepted?

So, in my opinion there are a few things that absolutely need to be addressed at this point.

1. If this was passed by the USSF... and never officially rescinded ... it seems that it still needs to be implemented. Is this true?

2. We now also need a copy of the original MLS business plan that was accepted by USSF for confirmation of what was indeed agreed upon by the Federation and the investors.

3. IF MLS has not lived up to its originally accepted business plan principals ... and this #ProRelForUSA plan has not ever been voted away... it would seem that Board Members, senior staff members, etc. that know about them... are not living up to their duty to USSF's constituency. What needs to happen to them?

4. As a current Board Member, Senior Staff, Legal Counsel, etc... if you are just finding out about this piece of information (and the potential business plan stipulations) ... it is your duty to find out about all of this information and talk to the highly paid legal council within USSF and figure out what to do next.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section or on social media. Keep speaking up!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Inclusion in American Soccer

As my followers on Twitter know by now I attended the USSF AGM as a voting representative from the great state of West Virginia. One of my first observations from the floor was of the make up of the over 500 voters. I tweeted out this rather tame take on it...

I had to block around 20 people just for tweeting out the fact that the #USSF electorate was not representative of the US population concerning racial diversity.

What kind of person are you and what kind of world do you live in that just the IDEA that a body such as USSF should represent us... all of us... is a threat to your identity and existence?

There are lot of fights still to come for the soul of American soccer... some my presence may never have an effect on but, I can tell this you right now.

I will never stop fighting for inclusion.

I will never stop trying to do the right thing.

I call on you now to stand up for soccer and make every effort to include all communities in the game. There is a difference between being "non-exclusionary" and being "purposely inclusive".  Currently many organizations are operating at the minimum standard level of " we don't exclude anybody from participating". While better than nothing, we all need to make better efforts to reach out to communities that are not currently participating, find out why, and then make every effort to include them.

This is across the board for players, referees, coaches, administrators, and fans.

Soccer in America needs new voices. Change is not going to happen without them.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SUM revenue guarantee for USSF

We keep hearing over and over again from the establishment (Gulati, Garber, Cordeiro and Carter) that the $30M per year guarantee that Soccer United Marketing (SUM) gives USSF is a great deal for the Federation.

Is it though?

It is very easy to look at that number and think of the stability that it provides the federation, the great things that $30M could do for soccer in this country and believe them.

Being from West Virginia I follow WVU quite closely. A few years back there was a lawsuit over the 3rd Tier broadcast rights and the bidding for them. I, just like thousands of other Mountaineer fans, followed along very closely and probably learned more about 3rd Tier broadcast rights than we really ever needed to. From following along closely to that saga, and knowing how much the University makes from a relatively small amount of media rights, I've always felt that the USSF National Team media rights deal was SEVERELY under performing.

WVU's 3rd Tier contract with IMG is for $9.1M per year for these media properties.

• Television rights to one football game per season and a handful of men’s basketball games that are picked over by the major networks
• Complete radio broadcast rights

• Coaches’ shows produced for television, radio and web streaming 

• Television rights to all other WVU sports (the ones lovingly categorized as non-revenue).
 • Rights to sell advertising signage and sponsorships

• Online content.

So... West Virginia has 1.8M people in it. An obviously small market. A total market that might not even put it at the top of the list if every resident was in one city and Jim Justice was trying to drop $150M to bring MLS to town.

One football game, a handful of basketball games, some coaches shows, radio broadcasts across the state,  in stadium ads, and the website are worth $9,100,000 per year... these properties are normally being broadcast locally in state or on a regional sports network at the maximum.

The USMNT and USWNT both play between 15 and 20 games per year to national audiences. The USYNT's play quite a few games. They also offer the same opportunities for all the other media, signage, coaches shows, etc. (and does the SUM deal give up ticketing for the national teams?).

So for basically... 600% to 800% (if not more) of full national team NATIONAL broadcast inventory...

That regularly draw ratings larger than the entire population of the state of West Virginia...

SUM is only paying $30M, which is roughly 330% of the money...

This seems like a HUGE under delivery of media rights money in today's marketplace to the Federation.

By allowing SUM to not have to bid on these media rights deals USSF is missing out on how many 10's of millions, if not HUNDREDS of millions of dollars? We absolutely can not continue to let the fox in to the hen house. We need change at the top. We need a new media rights deal. We need to rid ourselves of the conflicts of interest that have led us to this situation.

Please vote for change in this election. Do what is right for soccer in this country.

Do not let Kathy Carter win. Do not let Carlos Cordeiro win.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Guest Post: Easy vs Right by Charlie Blac

Thank you DJ Charlie Blac for this great guest blog post... find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Mixcloud and give him a follow if you like soccer and hip hop. 

Easy vs. Right

A wise man* once said "We all must face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

I coach a team of 7 & 8 year olds in what most would consider a "rec" league (we don't charge an arm and a leg so it's apparently not as "serious". But the work these kids put in, their passion for the game, and the joy on their faces when they play makes me want to throat punch people when they talk about my team like it doesn't matter. But I digress...). I only have 5-8 kids on my team at any one time, someone else schedules the games, we don't do orange slices/post-game snacks, we wear t-shirts for's pretty easy to manage the non-soccer specific duties.

But those things are still a HASSLE.

My brother is the president of the club, and I have to listen to him bitch and moan about dealing with coaches/refs/parents/board members/registrar/league president/me/etc.

It seems like a giant NUISANCE.

So if dealing with 8 kids and their parents is a hassle, and dealing with 80 kids and their parents as well as league duties is a bigger hassle, I imagine going a couple steps up the ladder to State Association President is an unfathomable PAIN IN THE ASS.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone willing to dedicate their time to running a state-level soccer association. I'm guessing they spend more time putting out fires than they do actual governance because they get phone calls and emails about the dumbest shit imaginable at all hours of the day. I base this belief off the fact that people are STILL whining about the birth year change put in place by USSF.

When you're the head honcho change = complaints. Less change, the less hassle you have to deal with. The less people calling and bitching. The less irate emails you have to respond to.

So the easiest thing a state association president can do is maintain the status quo.


But is the EASY thing the RIGHT thing?

With less than two weeks until the most divisive USSF presidential election in modern history, the leaders of state associations are being bombarded with phone calls and emails from candidates and their surrogates offering a vision for the future of American soccer (and sometimes different types of "offers"...or so I've heard).

They need to decide whether they're going to do the EASY thing and vote for a status quo candidate, or if they're going to do the RIGHT thing and vote for the candidate that is trying to create a culture of inclusion and empowerment for every club and association across the country.

The time is now to do the RIGHT thing. Vote your conscience. Vote your heart. Vote for the person who shares your vision of American soccer.

Cast the RIGHT vote, even if it isn't the EASY vote.

*That "wise man" was Albus Dumbledore, so technically it was a wise woman (JK Rowling) writing those words, but I needed to get to my point, not waste time discussing whether to credit the fictional character saying the words in the book or the author of the book.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kathy Carter says MLS should own part of US Open Cup

In an article from earlier today published by the great US Open Cup website THECUP.US, that you can read HERE. USSF Presidential candidate and MLS subsidiary Soccer United Marketing's (SUM) President Kathy Carter states, that to improve the US Open Cup that USSF should cede partial ownership of the Cup to MLS.

The three improvements I would suggest are:

1. Modifying the ownership structure of the tournament so it is shared between USASA, US Soccer and the Professional Leagues.

Just to be clear...

The US Open Cup is potentially the largest property USSF owns outside of the National Teams. It is the property that currently has the most untapped revenue generating potential for the Federation and she, as a "on hiatus" employee of MLS/SUM, says that MLS/SUM should own a part of it... just let that sink in.

Kathy Carter wants to be President of USSF...

Kathy Carter wants to give up an ownership percentage of its 2nd largest property...

to ...



Monday, January 29, 2018

Carlos Cordeiro makes the case to not vote for him.

Carlos Cordeiro sent out an email to potential voters earlier today that Chris Kivlehan of Midfield Press released on Twitter.

Carlos admittedly holds several important positions concerning the future of the World Cup Bid for the United States. I think it is safe to assume with his love for soccer in the United States that he will not step down from these positions if he loses out on his bid to become President of USSF. Knowing this, for the betterment of the entirety of the soccer in this country, we need him to focus on these jobs and deliver the World Cup to American soil.

With Carlos's focus firmly on winning the World Cup bid the next President will then be relieved of the burden of having to jump in and learn this very important set of jobs and can focus on the equally important aspects of reforming the system from day one. We need to not neglect either set of jobs and having the strongest team possible involved in the administration of soccer in this country is vitally important.

Eric Wynalda has proposed the most comprehensive plan to reform soccer in this country. Pairing his platform with Cordeiro's ability to deliver the World Cup is a win/win for American soccer.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

The time is now to speak up for Eric Wynalda

If you actually want to see change in American soccer and not just bitch on Twitter/Facebook/Reddit or your other favorite medium for bitching.

You will write.

You will publish.

You will share. 

We have 2 weeks until the USSF Presidential election.

Publishing once per week is the MINIMUM level of content creation. More is better. Creating other content in addition to these articles is even better. But, these need to be articles explaining why we NEED Eric Wynalda's platform to be implemented... not bashing the other candidates.

Voters need to be shown why his platforms ideas are what is needed... how they will help our state associations both adult and youth, the lower levels of soccer, the grassroots game nationwide, youth soccer, the national teams, ALL the national teams, and really the game in totality in this nation.

The rubber HAS TO HIT THE ROAD right now!

We as reform advocates have never in the last 25+ years had the opportunity that is at hand to be the positive force for change that the game needs in this country.

It is up to us... we must do something about it.... Twitter interactions ARE NOT ENOUGH. As much as we would like to think it is... we must remember, the idea of alone isn't going to be enough of an argument for a sizeable percentage of USSF voters. Many people don't understand its effects on the whole of the soccer community/culture it would have...  so we need to make the case to the VOTERS that they need to vote for the change that Eric Wynalda's platform will deliver.

Please start writing. Start publishing. We have two weeks to make our case. 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

I Listened to Don Garber So You Don't Have To by Jake Steinberg

I Listened to Don Garber So You Don’t Have To

It’s cliché but true to suggest that you shouldn’t assume malice when incompetence is more likely. But sometimes you hear something so wrong-headed that you’d prefer it to be disingenuous. I finally got around to listening to DonGarber’s appearance on the Men In Blazers Podcast  and if these are his honest arguments in opposition to #ProRelForUSA, than soccer in this country has bigger issues than I would like to admit.

Let’s start with his first statement, which amounts to a denial of personal responsibility.

Don Garber: I don't think [promotion and relegation is] inevitable and I don't think it's got anything to do with me, Roger.

We know it’s not inevitable, that’s why some of us spend our time and energy fighting for it. Please don’t insult our intelligence: it might not be your decision entirely, but in addition to your position with MLS you serve on the board of USSF, the governing body of the sport in the US. As a member of the board of the organization that determines leagues’ divisional sanctioning, whether closed leagues are given divisional sanctions certainly has something to do with you. And you clearly have some influence over the game generally. If you oppose pro/rel, fine, happy to disagree with you. But let’s not start off by pretending you don’t share some of the blame for us not having it.

DG: It's got to do with whether or not you can continue to have owners and municipalities and sponsors and broadcasters invest in a league without knowing ultimately what teams are going to be in that league.

There’s a logical fallacy called a special pleading. It relies on asserting that there is something unique about a situation without substantiating why that situation is unique. It’s endemic to criticisms of pro/rel in the United States. In virtually every other country, owners, sponsors, broadcasters, and municipalities invest in leagues without knowing who will be in the league the next year. Why is the United States different? In addition, pro/rel provides more guidance for new investors. Teams start at the bottom, and garner investment as they prove themselves, rather than requiring huge start-up costs in unproven markets. To use the most pressing example, Austin, we don’t really know if MLS will succeed there. We have some limited data points about teams (the Aztex, UT-Austin) and market research. In a pro/rel universe, a low-level team can demonstrate it merits top-flight investment, rather than investors just risking it upfront. And don’t even get me started on the dishonesty embedded in that mention of municipalities.

DG: So in today's world the L.A. galaxy would be relegated down to the USL. Their designated players would they be sold would they go to Louisville or would they go to Cincinnati? And we have contract with those players they're members of a union. We have salary caps that are contingent upon our agreement with the union.

Look, anytime you hear someone putatively advocating on behalf of a group they are ordinarily adverse to, your bullshit detector should be going off. Don Garber doesn’t speak for the players’ union. The players’ union doesn’t want Don Garber speaking for them. The players can voice their own concerns, and not for nothing, but to the extent we have any data on this, players have usually supported pro/rel.

This also assumes that the salary cap MLS has put in place is a good thing. I’m not going to get into that much here, but Mr. Garber needs to show his work. Teams in danger of relegation everywhere in the world structure their contracts to reflect that reality. Why are US clubs different? Why are we supposed to be protecting the owners at the expense of players?

I’ll also note that earlier in this podcast, Garber derided Columbus’s attendance for being the worst in the league. But it’s a tragedy if some players wind up in Cincinnati? What is he talking about?

DG: It's not about Don Garber and a handful of owners deciding that there's no promotion relegation.

That’s true. It would be easier if you folks got behind it, but you’re not the ultimate decision-makers. We’re supposed to have an independent federation that holds leagues accountable, MLS attempts to influence the federation that notwithstanding.

DG: It requires a total change of Major League Soccer as it exists today. Which has done a reasonably good job and I think you'd acknowledge of building a viable professional league that millions and millions of fans can get excited about.

You’re right. It does require a total change in MLS. It would be a change for the better. And sure, MLS has done “a reasonably good job.” Time for it to do better. An MLS team is still yet to win the CONCACAF Champions League, lagging behind LigaMX. While MLS is important, it is not preordained to be the the top-flight league in the US, nor is the whole of soccer in the United States.

DG: And by the way 3000 employees. 680 players. Five years ago this would be unthinkable.

So? Times change. MLS employees are only threatened to the extent that MLS can’t adopt to a pro/rel world. To say nothing of the fact that currently, lower-division teams operate on shoestring budgets, because they can’t move up, which limits the opportunities for them to drive interest in their clubs. What about the employment opportunities lost in the lower divisions? Players are certainly not threatened by a system likely to increase professionalism in soccer.

Look, I get that Don Garber represents the MLS, and is going to try to defend what he perceives as the interests of the MLS. That doesn’t make his arguments persuasive and it certainly doesn’t mean that his arguments carry any moral weight. Don Garber also serves on the USSF board, and even though his position as a professional council representative means he does, and should, represent MLS’s interests at the board level, board service generally comes with a responsibility to the greater mission of the organization, the promotion and health of soccer in the United States.

DG: So I understand there is a group of people who think it would be fun but this is about ensuring that soccer professionally could live for generations and the benefit is what? The final game would be exciting?

Ooh, a strawman! I was waiting for one of these. Yes, many of us think it would be fun. We also think it would be better for the game and would be the thing that would actually ensure that professional soccer would live for generations. What you appear to be concerned with is not the long-term viability of professional soccer in the US, but the continued control of professional soccer by the current MLS ownership contingent. I don’t care about that at all. And the last time I checked, sports were supposed to be fun.

Global soccer history shows that closed leagues are the leagues that fail, while open leagues tend to be sustainable and live for generations. Looking around the US Soccer landscape, MLS alone has lost multiple teams, had another move, and is about to see one of its most iconic clubs leave for another city. Meanwhile, it’s replaced those clubs largely with teams that proved themselves in lower-division leagues (Sounders, Timbers, Impact, Minnesota United) or by considering clubs in cities that have proven records of supporting lower-division teams (Sacramento, Cincinnati, Detroit). This doesn’t even address the many lower-division teams that have folded. Once again, Garber is relying on the argument that MLS is the whole of US club soccer, and even if we accept that dubious premise, his argument isn’t even right.

DG: Do they actually think that our teams are not trying hard? If they don't think that they're going to make MLS Cup?

No.I think the players are trying their hardest, but I’m not actually sure why, beyond professional pride. What incentive is there to win an end-of-season match between Colorado Rapids and DC United? Why shouldn’t players in those matches be more concerned with simply avoiding injury? This is without even addressing the evidence we have of tanking in other sports, since we have no reason to think it doesn’t or won’t happen in MLS if it remains a closed league.

DG: Do they think in the January or the summer window all of a sudden we're going to take apart our salary cap and a team that is in the bubble of the playoffs is all going to sudden spend 10 million dollars be exciting it's just not possible.

What are you babbling about now? Teams will build for a long-term future. The same way they do in virtually every other soccer league in the world. By the way, is this suggesting that teams in closed leagues don’t give up around the trade deadline? I’m pretty sure they do that in every closed league.

DG: But no it is not at all about my personal point of view Roger it's not just about our own point of view. It's about a structure.

This is true but meaningless. Of course it’s about a structure. We think there is a better structure that ought to be implemented.

-Jake Steinberg is the chairperson of San Francisco City FC's members' board. His work on soccer has also appeared on The Economist's Game Theory blog. He sporadically tweets, mostly about SF City but occasionally about basketball, law, and his dog under the handle @SFJoachim.