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.