ERIC WYNALDA

CAMPAIGN INFORMATION


How has your campaign been funded?


When I saw this question was listed as the first question in this questionnaire, I knew you were taking your jobs seriously representing all US Soccer athletes on the Athletes Council. This election process has been an amazing journey so far, and for us it began by assembling a campaign team of volunteers. I reached out to people with expertise in areas ranging from the UEFA Champions League to others working in the grassroots. I reached out to executives in the business of soccer and professionals who specialize in finance working with 501-C3 non profit

organizations.


My entire career has been shaped by teams, and I set out to build a world-class campaign team filled with competent people with expertise in a variety of areas. We are not going to solve the many issues plaguing US Soccer without finding the right people to help us identify and implement the best solutions.


As a result of these conversations, I was able to assemble a team that includes Senior Advisers with decades of sports business experience and an operations staff of volunteers led by our Campaign Manager. Our team has been traveling the country and meeting with state associations, league offices, and other voters. None of this is possible without the personal sacrifice of the more than dozen people on our team and the hundreds of volunteers across the

country.


In addition to my own financial investment, my campaign has received support from other members of our family, business professionals, as well as Ricardo Silva. According to best business and non-profit practices, I have ensured that none of my donors currently have a relationship with US Soccer including as members of any US Soccer board or committee. This includes any entity which has a commercial relationship with the US Soccer Federation from which they derive personal financial gain. Such a situation would be a clear and unreasonable conflict of interest.


We have made it very clear that contributing to my campaign does not indicate any commitment or implication that US Soccer will provide any preferential treatment towards donors at any time. This would be a contribution made to endorse the candidate that you believe will support the mission of the US Soccer Federation, and who will exclusively focus on serving the federation with distinction and do so free of conflict.


In addition, I strongly believe it is in the best interest of the US Soccer Federation, and therefore the Athletes Council, that candidates are not just free of any financial conflicts of interest but are free from the perceptions of a financial conflict of interest. Indeed, if elected as President of US Soccer, one of my first actions will be to explore and address the many perceived conflicts of interest that currently exist.

 

Who is your current employer? While campaigning, have you resigned or taken a leave of absence (if necessary)?


I am currently employed by two entities: California United FC (a professional team in Southern California) and FOX Sports. I did take a leave of absence upon deciding to run which took effect on December 7, 2017.


VISION AND MISSION


The mission statement of the United States Soccer Federation is to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States. What does that mission statement mean to you?


For far too long, we have elected not to engage in the global game. When our mission is limited to making soccer the preeminent sport in America, we limit our ability to achieve global success and miss the opportunity to become a global power. We’re the United States. We shouldn’t settle.


We should do everything we can to improve the quality of competition at the highest levels and work harder to provide opportunities for more players, families, coaches, and others to get involved regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status.


According to Pew Research, “By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. Much of this change has been (and will be) driven by immigration. Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in the past 50 years, mostly from Latin America and Asia. Today, a near record 14% of the country’s population is foreign born compared with just 5% in 1965. Over the next five decades, the majority of U.S. population growth is projected to be linked to new Asian and Hispanic immigration.”


Our federation has not done a good job in creating and providing programs and access for many players, especially so many of these Hispanic players. I have dedicated much of the last five years of my life to providing opportunities for these players to get involved.


Another area we must improve is the treatment of our national teams. We have the opportunity to set the global standard for the way we treat our Women’s and Men’s National Teams as well as providing the necessary support to all of our national team programs. Together we can make US Soccer more inclusive and better.


What is your vision for what success looks like in 5-10 years for the USSF to be able to claim it is successfully living out its mission statement? The US Soccer Federation will be successful once we address the issues plaguing our federation culture and mindset. If we are successful in the next 5-10 years, we will have more players playing within our system instead of the more than 10% decline in participation. We will be a federation that works to include, serve, and support our members.


There are too many on the outside looking in who feel that their federation doesn’t hear them or care enough. When we improve our culture, we start working together on all levels, providing more opportunities, raising our standards, and achieving more success on all levels.


When we are working together, we will see higher participation in the youth and adult amateur game. For our professional leagues and national teams, working together means tangible progress in improving our competitive level across all competitions. It also means opportunity for anyone and everyone to get involved in US Soccer and be rewarded for their work as a player, coach, club, or referee.


We don’t have a healthy soccer culture because we don’t have a healthy culture within our federation but we can get there together. Repetition yields constants. Constants create cultures.


What strategic initiatives will you implement to achieve that vision, both for the overall organization and per program?


Non-profit organizations often establish strategic plans at the Board level that are meant to provide a blueprint for all operating activities and priorities over a 5-10 year period that includes review and approval of programming initiatives, governance policies, financial affairs, and resource development. We will develop a new strategic plan that establishes goals and includes a guide for how we measure success.


It is critical for an organization to manage and plan operating functions in alignment with its mission and vision. One of our initiatives will be to implement strategic task forces staffed with experts in their field. These task forces will provide insight and direction to our programming and overall organization. Each of our strategic initiatives will follow these guiding principles: inclusion, collaboration, cooperation, and accountability.


ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT


If elected, how do you envision your role as President moving forward?


Leadership is a stewardship. It is temporary, and we’re accountable. As a result, the President should provide visionary leadership to the federation. This vision will be focused on total inclusion and bringing back the joy to all members of US Soccer. It’s time for us to redefine our ‘we.’


The role of the President includes building and leading teams. Working in partnership with our Board is paramount. Creating the culture of ‘we’ starts at the top. In the past, there has been too much ‘I’ and not enough ‘we’ and ‘us.’


How we lead those we lead filters all the way through an organization. When US Soccer becomes focused on ‘we’ and ‘us,’ we will begin to create a healthy culture of inclusion and cooperation.


What should your key roles and responsibilities be for the position and how do you describe success for the President for US Soccer?


My key roles and responsibilities will be to:

• Provide strategic vision to the Federation that unifies, empowers, and unleashes the

potential of our country

• Empower the Executives, Task Forces, and others to do their job

• Be held accountable

• Rebuild the reputation of the US Soccer Federation domestically and globally


My success will be measured by the execution of these roles and responsibilities.


Do you feel that this should be a paid position? Please explain your reasoning.


Yes, and I would ensure that my successor is compensated at a level consistent with the great expectations and responsibilities the role entails. We can’t expect that the best talent will be attracted to a position which is unpaid. Besides, we don’t want the US Soccer President to be reliant on other sources of income because of the impression it creates as well as the opportunities for conflicts of interest to arise.


GOVERNANCE


Many people have been calling for more transparency from US Soccer, what specific ways do you see in providing this?


Transparency is good and necessary, but good governance is the overall aspect that needs to be evaluated, addressed, and improved. For example, consistent with best practices employed by non-profit entities nationally as well as most Federal, state and local government entities, I would propose a Board-approved and Board-enforced policy that would require all US Soccer service and contract procurement processes (over an agreed upon de minimis amount as established by the Board) be subject to a mandatory competitive bid process.


The competitive bid process would be established to promote fair dealing with market vendors and service providers and would establish a safe harbor arrangement for determining fair market pricing by encouraging transparency and a level playing field. This would require that all service and contract procurement subject to the Board policy receive at least three bona fide bids under a sealed-bid process with final selection reviewed and voted on by the Board.


This is consistent with best practices among non-profit institutions nationally and allows US Soccer to establish itself once again as a leader around the world in corporate governance of football associations - which has clearly been a concern around the globe in recent years. I would encourage every single candidate in the USSF presidential race to publicly endorse this procedural process ahead of the election, and agree that they will incorporate this into US Soccer policy if elected.


After reviewing the US Soccer bylaws, the fact that this policy doesn’t currently exist is a problem. It is an indictment against the current leadership from the President, Vice President, down through the rest of the Board. When we fail to provide adequate accountability and oversight, we invite the appearance of shady dealings and collusion at the very least.

 

The USMNT’s CBA will be renegotiated in 2018 and the USWNT’s CBA will be renegotiated in 2021. What will be your philosophy and approach to the

negotiations? What experience do you have that would help you in CBA negotiations?


In my experience, the best number is the fair number. It is the point at which neither side feels remorse and that is best achieved if the tone and tenor of the proceedings are done in the true spirit of partnership. As a player I felt that the federation rarely had our back and showed us

support.


I don’t want to wait until 2021 to renegotiate the USWNT’s CBA. It should be done at the same time as the USMNT’s CBA, and they should mirror each other. This is the 21st Century and the USWNT is the most successful team in the world and should receive equal treatment and respect. 


What specific actions will you take to improve gender representation and pay disparity at US Soccer? Please address the difference in salaries of the USWNT and USMNT teams.


Our USWNT has been the gold standard of the world for quite some time. US Soccer has not been setting the example for the rest of the world in how a Women’s National Team should be treated. The USWNT should be compensated and supported equally. It’s time for US Soccer to be their biggest advocate, not biggest adversary. This same approach should apply at all levels of the federation.


What is the relationship between US Soccer and Soccer United Marketing and how does it affect the players?


The lack of transparency of US Soccer stands in stark contrast to other US sports organizations. To improve its governance, US Soccer should undergo a high-level, independent evaluation of the relationship of US Soccer, MLS and SUM. Such evaluation will no doubt be strongly resisted because in many respects US Soccer, MLS and SUM are one and the same. However, the mixing of business interests and non-profit sports governance is a recipe for disaster, as we have seen repeatedly in the soccer world in recent years.


MLS has used SUM to have a de facto monopoly on US Soccer policy and power. This includes their ability to limit player movement, salaries, and access. How much? Without the ability to review the deal, it is hard to pinpoint the severity of the negative effects of the relationship.


What experience do you have that has adequately prepared you to lead an organization of this size (more than 150 employees) and a budget in excess of 100 million dollars? Where specifically would the budget surplus be best spent and how will you measure the

success of those investments? 


What we’re really talking about here is an ability to lead people because any business or organization is only as good as its people. It’s the people that make everything happen. We are inma people business. We’re not manufacturing widgets. We are facilitating dreams and joy.


I have been fortunate enough to be able to live my dream in this game. I have also led people and built successful teams at every station in my career. I would foster a spirit of partnership within the organization and within our ecosystem of external partners.


In addition, the Federation currently derives half of its income from broadcast revenue which is something that I have an expertise in. I also have both personal and professional relationships (domestically and internationally) in this field that will aid the Federation in exploring new partnerships and future negotiations.


Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-a, once told his board, “We don’t need to worry about being the bigger. We need to worry about being better, and the bigger will take care of itself.” In the same respect, I may not have led an organization of 150 employees, but I know how to lead organizations. And I know how to assemble and lead teams.


If you would like to learn more about my ability to lead an organization, I would encourage you to read this article about my time with the Atlanta Silverbacks found here:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/wynalda-credits-silverbacks-for-strengthening-his-platformfor-

soccer/2tZ7z0WMoJDB5DEeF9LF4O/


In regards to the surplus, the money needs to go back into the game at the grassroots level. We can’t afford to have a surplus in excess of $100 million dollars. We need to invest in our players and the organizations that support them.


PLAYER AND PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT


What should US Soccer’s role be in player development? What governance structure(s) would you create to improve player development across all programs?


US Soccer shouldn’t be in the development business. It should be in the facilitation business. US Soccer should be providing a clear pathway and structure that allows clubs and organizations to create the best environments to develop players. We will accomplish this by fixing the chaos at the professional level and the youth level by providing guidance and direction.


What are your plans to lead all of the various youth soccer organizations so player development is the priority?


American youth soccer is an amalgamation of four primary organizations each working independently of the other. In the absence of leadership from the Federation, chaos and dysfunction exist. We need to work towards cooperation and partnership so that youth soccer returns to focusing on the players and not player registrations.


What other Federations have you researched that we can we learn from in terms of creating the best environments possible for the players to develop?


Through my experiences as a player in the German Bundesliga as well as my relationships throughout the world in the game of soccer, I have a very good working knowledge of the top leagues in the world and the federations in which they reside. These include Germany, Italy, Spain, England, and France. Some smaller federations like Iceland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Belgium also are doing a good job of educating coaches and developing players.


The key for us to realize is that we have everything we need to be a great soccer country. We have to start leveraging our resources to realize our potential. It’s time to invest in us.


What are your specific plans for the Beach Soccer, Futsal, and Paralympic National Teams?


There are two major areas that US Soccer is failing these programs. The first is the lack of visibility. Most don’t know these programs exist. The second is support. As a Federation we need to do more to facilitate and promote each of these programs.


For decades, due to Title IX and pioneers of the game, the Women’s National Team has had an abundance of success. What are concrete ways that you would look to advance the women’s game in the United States so the success continues for years to come? Also, please address the state of the NWSL.


Increasing the quality of play and the opportunities to participate at the highest level is paramount to the continued growth of the women’s game. The NWSL, in particular, is operating similar to MLS in the mid 90’s. While that provides the opportunity for the league to stabilize, the Federation needs to be a partner and a resource to continue its growth.


How do you address the problem of soccer being a “pay to play “ type of system that we now have? What specific plans do you have to increase participation and make soccer less expensive and more inclusive?


Until our pyramid is aligned and our Federation is FIFA compliant, we will struggle to get any type of relief in this area. When US Soccer becomes FIFA compliant, our youth system over time will naturally begin to self-correct. Only then will the development pathways be based on merit, not money.


SUPPORT OF NATIONAL TEAMS


During 2017, how many MNT games did you attend?


Being a broadcaster with FOX, I attended many games for the USMNT.


During 2017, how many men's professional league games did you attend?


I attended several matches at the professional level including the MLS Cup final.


During 2017, how many WNT games did you attend?


In my role with FOX, I also attended games for the USWNT.


During 2017, how many NWSL games did you attend?


As there are no NWSL teams in California, I unfortunately was unable to attend any matches.


During 2017, how many streaming broadcasts of the Paralympic National Team World Championships in Argentina did you watch?


In my campaign travels, I met Greg Brigman, a member of the USPNT, in Greensboro, NC. After hearing his story and learning about how he was treated by the Federation, I took an interest in going back and watching the USPNT. We need more guys like Greg that are soccer people who love the game and are good at what they do.


During 2017, how many streaming broadcasts of the Beach National Team did you watch (CONCACAF Championship or others)?


Working at FOX gave me a front row seat to most of the coverage of the Beach National Team.