Who the Hell Votes in the US Soccer Presidential Election?

This is long. Sorry not sorry. But if you want to ignore ALL of the peripheral mechanics and the process I had to work through, you can scroll to the pictures of Bryson — after that I discuss the 25.8% voting blocs of Pro, Adult and Youth Councils and the 20% from the Athlete’s Council.

Update (Nov 7, 8:22a): Paul Kennedy of Soccer America added this breakdown from the US Adult Soccer Association’s midyear meeting:

And Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) tracked down the Athlete Council list and posted it in his mailbag 10/25. Here are the current members of the Athletes Council: Chris Ahrens (chair), Angela Hucles (vice-chair), Carlos Bocanegra (vice-chair), Shannon Boxx, Brian Ching, Cindy Parlow Cone (advisor), Brad Guzan, Stuart Holden, Lauren Holiday, Lori Lindsey, Will John, Kate Markgraf, John O’Brien, Heather O’Reilly, Leslie Osborne, Nick Perera, Christie Rampone, Gavin Sibayan, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner.


As the story of the most critical juncture in a generation unfolds, I find myself underwhelmed. Underwhelmed by the professionalism of the challengers. Underwhelmed by the transparency from the Federation regarding the process. Underwhelmed by the reporting and the research being done by many of the soccer media and the push for answers and accountability from those in positions of power — inside and outside soccer house.

And yet I remain optimistic because at the moment, we are having more practical discussion — I won’t go as far as to call it debate — but there are rumblings of truly concrete and tangible plans.

I’m going to refrain from editorializing on priorities and values too much in this post and focus on the fact that almost no one knows how the complex mechanisms of the Presidential election by the National Council work.

So…we delve into the dark world of bylaws and things like “Robert’s Rule of Order” and “multiplying factors.”

This was not a USSF Presidential Election Year but it gives you an idea of how the voting is structured.

Part III of the US Soccer Federation Bylaws, Councils, and specifically Subpart A, Bylaw 302 (at the bottom if you wish to read it), in an opaque and archaic way, disguises the voters behind the mask of the Credentialing Committee and other Councils and Committees without actually identifying the “delegates” in charge of making this vital determination for the future direction of American Soccer. Yeah, the stakes are high. So the modus operandi of those tasked with carrying out this process must elevate their efforts to shine light on this process. It deserves WAY MORE but certainly nothing less.

302, Section 1, part a, defines nine categories that voters can fall under:

  1. delegates from the State Associations, National Associations, and Professional Leagues
  2. Athlete delegates
  3. each voting member of the Board
  4. each past President of the Federation
  5. each Life Member (not to exceed 12)
  6. delegates from each National Association, National Affiliate, Other Affiliate, Indoor Professional League, Disabled Service Organization and Associate.
  7. the Commissioners of the Adult Council
  8. the Commissioners of the Youth Council
  9. delegate(s) selected by Individual Sustaining Members

Instead of taking these in order as laid out by the Bylaws, we’re going to look at them from simples to most complex.

4. Each past President of the Federation. Including Sunil Gulati, there are only three living past Presidents: Alan Rothenberg & Bob Contigulia are the other two.

Whew…okay, not too bad. Let’s try another.

3. Each voting member of the board. We can do this one too. They conveniently have this listed on the website. But for those too lazy to click, they are:

Okay, we’re rolling.

5. each Life Member (not to exceed 12). What 302 (a) 5 also says is that in if

there are more than twelve (12) Life Members, then each Life Member’s vote shall equal the fraction of twelve (12) divided by the number of Life Members at that meeting, rounded off to two (2) decimal places. So these people’s votes can be diluted if more vote, however, the website also gives us a convenient list of Life Members.

So…not too bad, we’re a third of the way there and we know so far we have:

2 past Presidents
15 voting board members
and up to 12 life members.

Okay, so our total stands at 29. But already a problem is revealing itself about the governance of the organization. Of those 29 votes, at MOST 7 could be cast by women. And that’s assuming that only 9 other Life Members voted, otherwise the representation would be less.

The Fed has a gender problem. It doesn’t want to admit it. The US Women’s National Team’s success has been good political cover and we are further along than almost any other nation in terms of the development of our women’s program. But the under representation of diverse interests does not serve the best and broad interests of soccer. And just so we’re clear, the powers that be are aware of the problem and seeks to subtly put some weight on the scale because without the August 25th press release announcing a unanimous appointment of Lisa Carnoy, that number would be 6/29 or 20.68% of the senior leadership in soccer in this country.

“Oh, but Anthony, you’re cherry-picking those three categories, the National Council is more representative.” Well, is it? Let’s go deeper.

9. Let’s knock this one out, because where I have advocated for a broad membership base, this is the throwing the support and the commercial engine of US Soccer a bone, the Delegate(s) selected by Individual Sustaining Members. This is relatively new to the US Soccer, having been adopted at the 2017 AGM. It was re-announced in a Press Release in August. Anyway, for the most part it is an insignificant token of 1 to 6 delegates for “supporters” based on this breakdown (Bylaw 232, Section 3):

This is the first question for the Federation and the Credential Committee, how many members are there and in how many states?

We’re going to tackle 7. & 8. together. These are the Commissioners of the Youth and Adult Councils. In more depth it says, 
(7) the Commissioners of the Adult Council’s Administrative Commission shall be delegates and also entitled to vote in the Adult Council. 
(8) the Commissioners of the Youth Council’s Administrative Commission shall be delegates and also entitled to vote in the Youth Council.

This takes us to Bylaws 312 and 313. And in short it tells us there are 8 youth and 8 adult commissioners who have votes:

John Motta and company have done a good job of identifying their gang of 8. The four youth organizations and US Soccer do not identify the commissioners on the Youth Council page of the US Soccer Website.

Question #2: Who are the representatives on the youth council? How many (if any) are women?

Either way, our number of national council delegates goes to 51. Of which I know 7 are women.

6. Oops, and this one is also pretty straight forward and part of the minority, delegates from each National Association, National Affiliate, Other Affiliate, Indoor Professional League, Disabled Service Organization and Associate. On the US Soccer website, they list 8 affiliate members. Even though they represent interests and groups of varing sizes, including United Soccer Coaches’ 30,000+ members, they are, like the Fan Council mostly irrelevant in this process.

The Affiliates of US Soccer are: American Amputee Soccer Association, United States Armed Forces Sports Council, U.S. Futsal, United States Power Soccer (USPSA), U.S. Soccer Foundation, United States Specialty Sports Association — Soccer, United States of America Deaf Soccer Association and United Soccer Coaches.


Alright, you’ve almost made it through. You’re doing great. Here’s some pictures of my dog, Bryson, being playful in the mountains (and then tired because he played really hard) to give you a moment to process and catch your breath.


These are the 2 voting groups we have left: 1) delegates from the State Associations, National Associations, and Professional Leagues, 2) Athlete delegates,

Of these, we’ll tackle the Athlete Delegates. By law, the Athlete vote has to count for at least 20% of the vote and they have mechanisms to ensure that happens.

(b) Athlete delegates to the National Council shall be determined by the Athletes’ Council.

Question #3: Who are the Athlete Delegates and how is the Athlete’s Council determining who gets a vote?

So after all that, we’re really down to the meat and potatoes of the whole thing: the Pro Council is ~25.8% of the vote. The Adult council is ~25.8% of the vote. And the Youth Council is ~25.8% of the vote.

In the Youth Council, there is no way to know the division of delegates between the 4 National Affiliates (US Club Soccer, USYS, AYSO & SAY) without knowing registration numbers.

Question #4: To the Youth Council and Credential Committee, what is the breakdown of delegates to each of these organizations. Only then can you go to each of those individual organizations to determine how they divide their delegates.

Question #5: To the Adult Council, how do you allocate your delegates?

Then finally, the Pro Council, Bylaw 314, Section 2, Subpart 3 requires the Pro Council in even years to designate the number of delegates from the Professional Council to the National Council.

This is how it’s written in Bylaw 302.

(3) In the Professional Council, the number of delegates for each Professional League shall be based on the level of competitive division among the Professional Leagues.
(b) If the members of the Council are unable to reach agreement on the number of delegates under subsection (a) of this section, the Board shall determine the number.

“Shall be based on the level of competitive division” — someone will have to explain to me what that’s supposed to mean. Because people who follow this stuff very closely were quick to note in 2015 this happened:

So first, Question #6 is this the voting breakdown for the Pro Council vote in the 2018 Presidential Election?

If it is, shouldn’t the votes be based based on “competitive division?” In other words, how could MLS and NWSL not have equal votes on the Pro Council? If that’s the case, MLS controls 64.29% of the Pro Council or 16.59% of the power in this election while the NWSL controls 5.53%.

So, I think I have more questions than I did when I started but I at least feel like I know what the right questions are now.

But it still leaves one major question, “Who the Hell Votes in the US Soccer Presidential Election?”

…and one more. Is this good governance? I say no. In the mean time, without declaring his candidacy, Sunil’s position gets stronger and time runs short to actually do the hard things necessary to create a shared vision and build a healthy ecosystem for the American soccer community…and future generations.


PART III — COUNCILS

Subpart A — National Council 
Bylaw 302. COMPOSITION AND VOTING

Section 1.
(a) The following shall be members of the National Council and entitled to one vote unless otherwise specified:

(1) delegates from the State Associations, National Associations, and Professional Leagues having votes as determined and weighted under section 2 of this Bylaw. of this Bylaw. 
(2) Athlete delegates having votes as determined, weighted under section 3
(3) each voting member of the Board.
(4) each past President of the Federation.
(5) each Life Member, except that the total of all votes cast by Life Members shall not exceed twelve (12). If there are more than twelve (12) Life Members, then each Life Member’s vote shall equal the fraction of twelve (12) divided by the number of Life Members at that meeting, rounded off to two (2) decimal places.
(6) delegates from each National Association, National Affiliate, Other Affiliate, Indoor Professional League, Disabled Service Organization and Associate.
(7) the Commissioners of the Adult Council’s Administrative Commission shall be delegates and also entitled to vote in the Adult Council.
(8) the Commissioners of the Youth Council’s Administrative Commission shall be delegates and also entitled to vote in the Youth Council.
(9) delegate(s) selected by Individual Sustaining Members.

(b) An individual eligible to vote in more than one capacity under subsection (a) of this section may only vote in one of those capacities, as selected by that individual.

(c) (1) No voting by proxy is allowed. Except as provided in subsection 
(2), an individual may cast all or part of the votes of an Organization Member having more than one vote at a National Council meeting. A delegate of an Organization Member must be an officer, director, or senior executive of the Organization Member or must be authorized in writing to serve as a delegate by the governing body of the Organization Member.

(2) For any National Council meeting, a delegate of an Organization Member may not cast votes that exceed 2 percent of the votes eligible to be cast at a National Council meeting.

(d) Any dispute regarding voting or eligibility to vote shall be decided by the Credentials Committee. A decision of the Credential Committee may be appealed to the Board.

(e) An Organization Member may designate alternates to register for and attend National Council meetings. An alternate may not vote but has the right to speak.

Section 2.
(a) The number of delegates from each of the Organization Members in the Youth, Adult, and Professional Councils shall be determined by the respective Councils. The number of delegates voting within a Council shall be proportional among its Organization Members based on the following:

(1) In the Youth Council, the number of delegates for (A) a State Association shall be based on the number of players registered and fees paid to the Federation by the State Association, and (B) a National Association shall be based on the number of players registered and fees paid by the National Association directly to the Federation and not through a State Association. In each case, players registered and fees paid shall be for the preceding calendar year, January 1 through December 31, as certified by the Federation’s Treasurer.

(2) In the Adult Council, the number of delegates for (A) a State Association shall be based on the number of players registered and fees paid to the Federation by the State Association, and (B) a National Association shall be based on the number of players registered with the and fees paid directly to the Federation by the National Association and not through a State Association, however the National Association shall designate delegate votes to National Association Members that are not State Associations based upon the number of players registered and fees paid directly to the National Association and not through a State Association. In each case, players registered and fees paid for the preceding calendar year, January 1 through December 31, as certified by the Federation’s Treasurer.

(3) In the Professional Council, the number of delegates for each Professional League shall be based on the level of competitive division among the Professional Leagues.

(b) If the members of the Council are unable to reach agreement on the number of delegates under subsection (a) of this section, the Board shall determine the number.

(c) The Youth, Adult, and Professional Councils shall have equal voting strength in the National Council

(d) To provide equal voting strength among the Youth, Adult, and Professional Councils, the votes of the delegates from each of those Councils shall be multiplied by a Council multiplier. The Council multiplier shall equal the number of delegates for the Council with the largest number of delegates divided by the number of delegates of the respective Council, rounded off to 2 decimal places.

Section 3.
 (a) At least twenty (20) percent of the votes eligible to be cast at a National Council must be Athletes, and the Credentials Committee shall make necessary adjustments to ensure that this twenty (20) percent Athlete requirement is satisfied.

(b) Athlete delegates to the National Council shall be determined by the Athletes’ Council.

(c) One individual may cast all or part of the votes for the Athletes at a National Council meeting, but that individual may not cast votes for any other Organization Member or individual at the meeting. The individual may cast the votes as an Athlete delegate as determined by the Athletes’ Council.

(d) To ensure at least twenty (20) percent Athlete representation on the National Council, the votes of the Athlete delegates shall be multiplied by an Athlete Council multiplier. The multiplier shall be calculated as follows: ((TWV/.8) — TWV)/AD rounded off to two (2) decimal places. “TWV” means the total weighted vote of all non-Athlete delegates at the National Council. “AD” means the number of Athlete delegates at the National Council meeting.