Carlos Cordeiro’s tenure will be judged by how he handles Soccer United Marketing (SUM)
While Cordeiro appeared at first to be a lock-step establishment candidate, by mid-December my reporting indicated he was discussing his discomfort about SUM’s relationship with the USSF about the conflicts of interest among members of the USSF Board of Directors. That same week, MLS and Gulati threw Kathy Carter into the race presumably as a response to Cordeiro’s new found skepticism about SUM.
Weeks later, in his candidate interview with the Athlete Council who eventually cast its votes in a bloc for Cordeiro after a long deliberation, Cordeiro said “The unique ownership of SUM creates conflicts that need to be addressed. To avoid any and all conflicts going forward, USSF will need to ensure that any individuals with potential conflicts of interest are recused from any future negotiations with SUM. That is why I have proposed a new Board-level commercial committee to be chaired by one of our independent board directors to oversee the entire process.”
Cordeiro’s comments set alarm bells off with MLS, leading Garber to reveal more about SUM than he has ever publicly done in a very candid interview. He said:
“By creating a vibrant commercial market for soccer, SUM has helped the most significant professional soccer organizations in the United States increase their revenues, which they have then been able to use to help further their respective missions.
“Importantly, since 2004, SUM has paid U.S. Soccer more than $190 million to help the federation fund its operations and programs. When you total the amount of our guaranteed payments through the term of our agreement in 2022, it’s more than $300 million.”
It was probably unwise for Garber to give numbers since to this point it’s been a game of speculation. When you consider that over the next five seasons that the SUM English- and Spanish-language TV rights deals that include the MLS and USSF properties will yield about $90 million a season, but only a little over $20 million a year will be directed to the federation’s coffers (approximately $110 million in total), it indeed shows that the USSF men’s and women’s programs are being shortchanged.
Former USWNT Goalkeeper Hope Solo, a World Cup winner, filed a formal complaint with the US Olympic Committee in which she takes aim at SUM, alleging the other aspects of the game in the United States have been neglected financially due to the relationship between the USSF and MLS/SUM.