USSF Presidential Candidate Questionnaire: CARLOS CORDEIRO

The American Outlaws remain committed to pushing the U.S. Soccer Federation to make the changes necessary to advance soccer in this country and make it more accessible and affordable to everyone. As part of that commitment, we have asked both candidates for USSF President a series of questions so that our members can get a better view of each's vision for their time in office and the USSF going forward.

Name: Carlos Cordeiro
Age: 65

Soccer Experience (player, coach, executive, etc.):

A lifelong soccer fan, I served U.S. Soccer as a volunteer for more than a decade. I’m running for U.S. Soccer President because I believe that the years ahead will be the most important period in the history of our Federation and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform soccer in America for decades to come. 

It was an honor to serve as U.S. Soccer President from February 2018 until March 2020, and I  remain proud of the progress that our Federation achieved during this time. In particular, we won our bid to co-host the FIFA World Cup 2026™; made record investments in players, coaches and referees at all levels; increased support for our national teams; boosted resources for our youth and adult players at the grassroots; enhanced coaching and referee education; and passed important reforms to make our governance more open and transparent. 

Over the past two years, I’ve continued to do everything I can to help grow the game, in the United States and around the world. As immediate past president, I remained on the U.S.  Soccer Board of Directors and on the Commercial Committee until this past September. I also continued to represent our Federation as a member of the FIFA Stakeholders Committee and the Concacaf Council, where I was a strong supporter of efforts to expand competitions for women, including the revamped W Championship and new W Gold Cup. 

Since September 2021, I have served as an unpaid senior advisor to FIFA, focusing on ways to grow football globally, especially how we can bring even more tournaments, opportunities and investments to the women’s game.

Prior to being elected U.S. Soccer President, I helped guide the Federation as a board member, serving as Vice President, Treasurer, Chair of the Budget Committee, and as the Federation’s first Independent Director, starting in 2007.

Born to a Colombian mother and Portuguese-Indian father in 1956, I immigrated to the United States from India with my widowed mother and three siblings at the age of 15. I became an American citizen 10 years later. I am a graduate of Miami Beach High School, Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

You were U.S. Soccer president, but resigned in March 2020 after taking responsibility for the comments made in legal documents in the WNT lawsuit. Why are you running again and why should fans trust you once again to lead the federation? 

As a lifelong fan, it was an incredible honor to serve as U.S. Soccer President. I’m running again because people across the Federation asked me to run. They know that, even though I didn’t write or see that offensive language in March 2020, as president of the Federation, I took responsibility. Stepping down was deeply humbling, but it allowed the Federation to get through a very difficult moment.  

I’ve been spending this campaign reaching out to members, hearing their priorities and working to build trust. Many members have told me that they feel ignored, neglected and marginalized by the current leadership. I believe that the Federation should treat every member equally, with dignity and respect, and give members the support they need to  grow so that we’re improving the experience for players and fans at every level. 

I’m also running because I believe that the years ahead can be the most exciting in the history of soccer in America. The U.S. Soccer leadership should be working more closely with FIFA to prepare for the 2026 World Cup. I’ll draw on my global experience to make sure 2026 is an incredible experience for fans and generates the revenues we need to grow the game at every level. 

So far, U.S. Soccer has also failed to make it clear whether it will bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup. If elected, I’ll make it a priority to bring the Women’s World Cup to the United States as soon as possible so we can galvanize the women’s game in our country. I believe we should also bid for other global tournaments, for men and women, like Beach, Futsal and Para CP. Just imagine multiple World Cups in our country. It would help us inspire the next generation of players and fans who will help fuel the game for decades to come. 

Given my experience on the global stage—in soccer and in business—I feel I’m the best candidate to seize the opportunities of the coming years, deliver extraordinary experiences for fans and generate the revenues that we can invest back in the game, including the grassroots, so we’re developing players and teams that are champions for  decades to come. That’s why I’m running. 

On your campaign website, you target four key issues that you wish to address. Why were you unable to address those issues in your previous term as president, and why should members believe you will do better if given another opportunity?  

I was in office for 25 months and, while I wasn’t able to achieve everything I wanted in that limited time, I’m proud of the progress we made. We waged and won our global bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will inspire a new generation of players and fans. We made unprecedented investments in our national teams, including creating the first Technical Department and putting soccer experts in charge of soccer operations, such as hiring our first Sporting Director and first General Managers of our senior national teams. I’m also very proud that we created the first department focused on supporting our Extended National Teams. 

We boosted support for our youth and adult members, including more grants to help them recruit and retain players. We made new investments in referee and coaching education. Finally, we passed important reforms at the Federation to make our governance more open and transparent, including welcoming the inaugural Fan Council to give fans a greater voice. As president, I also made sure to communicate regularly so that members and fans knew what was happening at the Federation and why. 

Members across the Federation asked me to run, and I intend to build on that progress. I’m offering the global experience and inclusive approach to governance that we’ll need in the coming years. I’ve learned from the experience of two years ago, I’ve resolved to do better, and I’m using this campaign to listen to all members so that the Federation addresses their concerns and does more to help them grow. 

If you were to be elected, what two immediate, tangible changes would you prioritize? 

First and foremost, I would draw on my global experience in soccer and in business to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to increase sponsorships and revenue as we head into the 2026 World Cup. Leading football nations like Germany, France and Spain have budgets that are vastly bigger than ours. If we really want to compete on the  global stage, we need to bring in new sponsors and dramatically increase our budgets, so we can invest more in every level of the game—players, coaches, referees and fans. 

By winning the bid for 2026, we created a powerful incentive for sponsors to align themselves even more deeply with U.S. Soccer, like Nike did when it recently chose to expand its 27-year relationship with the Federation. I’m absolutely confident that I’ll be able to leverage the incredible opportunities of 2026 to bring in new sponsors that help us grow the game. In fact, I’ve spoken with multiple sponsors, and they have made it clear that they will continue their partnerships with U.S. Soccer regardless of who is elected president. 

Second, I’ve made it clear that I’ll make it a priority to resolve the lawsuit with the Women’s National Team. The Federation just announced a settlement, which depends upon reaching a CBA with the team. I’m confident we can get it done. The only question is how to pay for the $24 million settlement. I believe we should fund the settlement by  bringing new sources of revenue into the Federation, not by taking funds away from other programs or depleting our reserves, as is currently planned. The Federation has more than 100 members and many national teams, and I believe that we should use our budget and reserves to make sure we’re strongly supporting every member at every level. That’s why I’m focused on bringing in new sources of revenue to support women’s programs, including the settlement. 

Beyond these two most immediate changes, I will also make it a priority to rebuild trust between the U.S. Soccer leadership and the membership. As I mentioned, many members—especially the grassroots—have told me that they feel ignored, neglected and marginalized by the current leadership. I’m offering a more inclusive approach. I’ll invite more members to play a leadership role in our Federation. I’ll listen, collaborate and make sure that members are consulted before decisions are made that impact them. I’ll rebuild and strengthen the Membership Department—and have it report directly to the CEO—with a single mission: serving our members better 

How will your presidency incorporate the views of fans and include them in the governance of U.S. Soccer? 

I’ve always believed that strong teams depend on a strong fan base. Our fans—including the American Outlaws—bring the energy that turn gamedays into unforgettable  experiences and the passion that helps inspire our players. On a personal level, I’ll never forget the more than 30,000 fans who made the trip to France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the enthusiasm they brought to those matches, even drowning out the French fans at Parc des Princes in Paris.  

I’ve always believed that fans should have a meaningful voice in our Federation, including at the National Council. When I served as Vice President, I was a strong supporter of creating the Fan Council. When I served as President, I worked closely with the inaugural Fan Council, and I met with the Council regularly to hear their ideas and put them into action. For example, with input from the Council, we launched a new website and first mobile app to enhance the fan experience, and I was pleased to welcome representatives from the Council – including the American Outlaws – to our U.S. Soccer Annual General Meetings.  

If elected, I’ll continue this close cooperation with the Fan Council. My door will always be open. I’ll meet with the Council on a regular basis to hear their concerns and put more of their ideas into action. By revitalizing our Membership Department, I’ll make sure the Federation serves all our members better, including fans. After all, our sport simply cannot exist without our fans. 

The current pricing structure for many U.S. Soccer games makes it difficult for the emerging fan, the diehard fan, and families to access National Team games regularly. What will you do to address ticket affordability and increase fan access  to games? 

Our goal should be to make sure that as many fans as possible are given the opportunity to attend and experience National Team games. The Federation should work to keep ticket prices affordable, with multiple price points, so that fans and families are not priced out. To do that, U.S. Soccer should be open to more discounts and new approaches. For example, the Federation could perhaps offer a Volunteer Discount to coaches, referees and administrators who volunteer or work in soccer, including at the youth and adult levels. Or the Federation could perhaps develop a Rewards Program where, as they purchase U.S. Soccer merchandise, supporters would gain rewards points that they  could apply towards the purchase of game tickets. 

At the same time, U.S. Soccer relies on ticket sales to help sustain our national teams, invest in player development and grow the game at all levels, including youth and adult  soccer. When it comes to ticket prices, we have to strike a balance. If elected, I look forward to working our members—including the Fan Council—to make sure we’re working to preserve that balance so that we’re doing right by the players and fans of both today and tomorrow. 

Even as we work to bring more fans into the stands, we have to make sure that as many fans as possible can experience games from home. Today, fans enjoy easy access to home national team matches on broadcast television. As U.S. Soccer looks to renew contracts with broadcasters in 2023, our goal should be to make sure that fans continue  to have free and easy access to home national team matches—for example, without a subscription to a streaming service. After all, broadcast deals should bring soccer to more fans and expand viewership, not limit it. 

With the WNT lawsuit not reaching a resolution in your time as president, why do you feel that you are the person that can bring a swift resolution to that lawsuit as well as the collective bargaining negotiations between the federation and both senior national teams? (NOTE: This questionnaire was sent before the agreement between the USSF and the WNT players was announced Feb. 22, 2022.)

The settlement announced on February 22 is an important moment for U.S. Soccer. The players of our Women’s National Team raised their voices for equality, and the work  ahead is clear—new collective bargaining agreements, including equal pay, for the women’s and men’s teams. With this settlement, it’s time for our soccer family to come  together, focus on the future and make sure we use our budget and reserves to strongly support every member at every level. I think there’s a genuine desire on all sides to move forward. I’m committed to doing my part, and I’m confident we can get it done. 

What will USSF do under your leadership to further reach out to marginalized communities to make them feel included in the governance of this federation and an important part of the focus of the game in America? 

For me, this is personal. I came to the United States as an immigrant with my family when I was teenager. So I have a deep appreciation for diversity and equality. It’s who I am. It’s in my DNA. It’s why I’m committed so deeply to equality for all people. 

I’ve brought this commitment to my work at U.S. Soccer. It’s important to acknowledge  that, historically, U.S. Soccer failed to do enough to recruit and retain players from all backgrounds, especially players of color. When I was president, we made some progress. We hired our first-ever Talent and Inclusion Officer to advance diversity at every level. We awarded more Innovate to Grow grants to our youth associations to help them bring in more players from underserved communities. 

If elected, I’ll make sure that U.S. Soccer is truly inclusive. Every athlete will be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background or disability. I’ll continue Game Changers United to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. In fact, I think we should make  Game Changers United even more inclusive. Right now, it does not include anyone from our Disabled Service Organizations. I’ll make sure they’re included, too. I’ll also encourage the Federation to prioritize Innovate to Grow grants that help bring in more players from diverse backgrounds so that everyone who loves the game can play the game. 

We’ve seen some harrowing tales coming from brave NWSL players over the past year that have provided detail to just some of the abuse that they have had to endure, along with allegations that people in power didn’t give their accounts the attention they deserved. What will you do to ensure this never happens again and ensure the safety of women’s soccer players across this country? 

Members of the Women’s National Team wrote to both Cindy Parlow Cone and me about this in mid-February. As I said in my reply, the allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct are sickening. U.S. Soccer must be fully transparent and make public the investigation it has commissioned.  

But the U.S. Soccer leadership does not have to wait—and should not wait—for the conclusion of the investigation to begin to act. In my letter, I discuss some of the steps that the U.S. Soccer leadership could take now, including designating and empowering a senior official at U.S. Soccer as a Chief Player Safety Officer and examining any internal policies and procedures at U.S. Soccer that could be streamlined or strengthened to protect players and hold abusers accountable. 

These are examples of the kind of actions the U.S. Soccer leadership could begin to take; any of them would be an important step forward. If elected, I will ensure that the  health and safety of players—and necessary systemic reforms—receive the high-level attention they deserve so this kind of abuse never happens again. 

What is your plan to grow the fan base energized on the MNT side with the team playing mostly friendlies in the next World Cup cycle? 

Energizing the fan base in the years leading up to a World Cup can be a challenge for any host country because the host team pre-qualifies. Although FIFA has not made a formal announcement, we expect our MNT to prequalify for 2026. Still, I believe there are many things we can do to make the years leading up to the 2026 World Cup the most exciting in the history of soccer in America—for all our fans.

As I mentioned, I will use my global experience to bring more global tournaments to the U.S. in the years before 2026. I’m optimistic that FIFA will want to bring a tournament to the U.S. before 2026, to prepare for the World Cup, like the Arab Cup in Qatar last year.  

I believe that we can also successfully bid for a FIFA Club World Cup and bring the world’s best clubs to America before 2026. We should bid for other global tournaments as well, for men and women, like Beach and Futsal. In all these tournaments, U.S. Soccer should bring matches to every region of the country—and the largest stadiums that are available—so that as many fans as possible can share in the experience. 

Of course, this is broader than our MNT. Our World Cup champion Women’s National Team will be heading into the revamped W Championship, the Women’s World Cup in  2023 and the Summer Olympics in 2024. All of this—across the men’s and women’s game—will energize fans across our country leading up to 2026. 

What changes will you make to youth development in this country? Can you provide a timeline of the changes that you envision?  

If we were starting from scratch, youth soccer in America would be a simplified structure where there is a clear pathway for players, from recreational soccer all the way up to professional and national teams. That’s what so many other countries have. In such a system, there would be clear and consistent standards across leagues and clubs, and players and parents would have a better understanding of what each club offers and whether it would be a fit for their family. 

In reality, our youth landscape today is fractured and fragmented. With no real barriers to entry, anyone is free to start their own club and league. As a result, we’ve seen a  proliferation of leagues and championships, as described recently in the media. 

Competition for players and coaches has intensified, and costs for families have spiraled. In recent years, especially during the pandemic, the number of registered players has declined. On top of that, U.S. Soccer dismantled the Development Academy with no consultation or warning, creating more confusion at the youth level. I understand why so many players and parents are frustrated. 

In a country as big and diverse as ours, we’re probably never going to have a single, unified national youth program like many smaller countries. We’ll always have different programs in different places. What our soccer family can and should do is work together to reduce the confusion and bring more clarity to the youth landscape. Instead of clubs  and leagues constantly competing for players, we ought to be partnering around a  shared goal—recruiting millions of kids as registered players and developing them so they can advance to their highest potential. 

That requires leadership. Working together, we need to be bold and rebuild our ranks. From talking with members, I believe we should develop a nationwide plan with a new goal—doubling the ranks of our registered players, coaches and referees by the end of the decade (2030). It’s ambitious, but it’s achievable. 

How? U.S. Soccer can partner with youth to create new programing and develop new sponsors to support member initiatives. Youth soccer could partner with communities and schools. When it comes to coaching education, we need to make coaching licenses more accessible and affordable. When it comes to referees, we need to reduce entry level costs and streamline certifications and develop national framework to prevent abuse of referees, including penalties and enforcement. 

To make these programs a reality, the Federation needs to provide better services and support. By revitalizing the Membership Department, the Federation can focus on serving members better. I want to increase funding for our Innovate to Grow Fund to help youth recruit and retain more players.  

Finally, USYS and our professional leagues working together can play an important role in guiding a process that leads to a more simplified and streamlined youth structure, including clear pathways for player development. U.S. Soccer does not have the authority to dictate outcomes, but the Federation should take a leading role—in close collaboration with youth members—in developing clear and consistent standards for leagues and clubs. Ideally, U.S. Soccer, in cooperation with state associations, would administer and enforce standards, because there should be a level playing field and competition should be fair.  

It won’t be the perfect landscape that we would develop if we were starting from scratch, and it won’t happen overnight. But these changes would represent real progress, and it’s a vision that should unite us all.

February 26, 2022