How has your campaign been funded?
I have funded my campaign by myself and have also received some limited contributions from some local personal friends who believe in me and would like to see improvement in the way U.S. Soccer is governed and run. I did not want to raise any money, but it appears that at least 3 candidates are independently funded such that they can fly to visit delegates each day if they so elect (I can’t do that). I was asked by Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated who are my three leading donors (as he is appropriately trying to ask each candidate for full disclosure of their top 3 contributors), and so I think the same answer that I provided him (importantly stressing that there is no conflict of interest) would be appropriate in this case: The common bond between the three people is that they are each friends of mine and soccer dads (one’s son I coached and is now playing college soccer; one’s son played college soccer and is trying to continue his playing career; and one’s son played club soccer with my older son and is now in college but no longer playing soccer). Most importantly, there is no conflict of interest, as none of the three are in the game and have no interest before U.S. Soccer. They are simply friends who believe in me and who want U.S. Soccer to do better at all levels.
Who is your current employer? While campaigning, have you resigned or taken a leave of absence (if necessary)?
My current employer is the law firm Prince Lobel Tye LLP, where I am a partner. While I believe most other candidates have taken a leave of absence or are not working, I have not taken a leave of absence from my job, as my clients need and rely on my advice and counsel. My partners have been very supportive though, and have allowed me to reduce my workload during this election campaign.
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?
In order for soccer to become the preeminent sport in the United States, all segments of the soccer community must be thriving. It is a truism that the sport in this country is organic and holistic, and that if any one sector is ailing, it hurts the whole and every other sector. For instance, if youth soccer is fractious and dysfunctional, it will necessarily hurt the performance of the national teams, because in our current state we are creating many joyless players. It takes a village with all segments and constituencies mattering and working together in order to achieve true success.
Thus, in order to make soccer the preeminent sport:
a) Youth Soccer: The infighting between sanctioning organizations (who fight for the same players. clubs and leagues) will be addressed and solved. Good housekeeping standards for youth clubs will be established. The alarming attrition rate of youth players at U13 will be reversed. Substantial efforts to ameliorate pay-to-play so that diversity is increased and deserving players who are otherwise shut out of the system are able to play in our system will be made. The club system, and in particular the Development Academy, will be reformed so that we can develop happier players at all levels, and players at top levels who play with joy.
b) Adult Soccer: Registration and participation numbers will be increased, by devoting more resources to programmatic initiatives and field development, and diversity efforts (thereby hoping to bring unaffiliated leagues into the fold). A “cradle to grave” environment will be created, whereby the majority of Americans who love the sport can find a participation spot within it for life.
c) Professional: Professional soccer will be robust, wherein pro clubs around the country (whether top or lower division) will be inculcated into their respective community cultures, providing a place for youth players and adults to attend high level soccer games and be inspired. Teams will not only be successful at the gate, but television ratings and production values-wise as well. American players will have significant opportunities to play and develop at the professional level within the American pro league scheme.
d) National Teams: With all the other segments of the sport in this country functional and in harmony, the national teams will be served well. The USWNT will stay on top, and will be provided equal and the best working conditions to do so. The USMNT will reverse the decline and move forward to reach unprecedented heights as a leading national team, regularly having successful results against its European, South American and African counterparts. Youth national teams will consistently compete successfully on the world stage. The Paralympic, futsal, beach, deaf, amputee and power national teams – having been shown the respect and reward for their accomplishments – will have the resources to compete successfully on the international stage.
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?
I am not someone who will say something just for a soundbite, and of course, senior U.S. Soccer officials have been embarrassed in the past for making such statements (for instance, who can forget the “Project 2010” promise that was made in 1998?). A responsible leader will set goals that are more immediate, and accountable. Here are some of those:
- Our youth national teams should be doing better across the board in 2 years’ time given the right staff and with clearly defined goals and objectives
- The USWNT should remain the gold standard for the world – and with parity in compensation and working conditions – the goal will be another Olympic gold medal and World Cup championship
- The USMNT has a pipeline of promising players which, provided the right technical and coaching staff is retained and we tweak the youth system to produce players who maintain their passion and joy, should result in more than simply qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and advancing past the first round
- More American players will be starting and playing in the American professional leagues, and those leagues will not only be doing well attendance-wise, but also will enjoy improved television ratings, and will be generally thriving at the business level
- Coaching education will be improved: There will be more licensed coaches at all levels, and the ratio of licensed coaches to players will be greatly improved
- There will have been a complete transformation of the U.S. Soccer culture shift as to its relationship with all of its members. Policy development will be done iteratively and inclusively, and there will responsiveness and transparency, including U.S. Soccer staff accountability
- Adult soccer registrations will have increased significantly
- The current youth soccer dysfunction will have been solved, such that, the alarming attrition rate will have been arrested, and players will maintain their enthusiasm for the sport throughout their progression
What strategic initiatives will you implement to achieve that vision, both for the overall organization and per program?
- We will separate the duties of the national team coaches and the technical director
- We will invest in a more robust youth player development and scouting program
- We will utilize Latino opportunities in coaching/scouting in independent, unaffiliated environments – including making sure good young prospects with dual citizenship stay and play for the U.S.
- It is important that we have a thriving pro system that is not limited to just MLS. The NASL and USL need to be successful and supported, as not all players mature at the same rate, and players need a place to develop, and fans across the country need a place to watch the beautiful game in person. The NWSL needs further financial support in order to be the ideal league for all women and for girls to aspire to
- Coach’s education aimed at teaching the teachers: We will continue to have programming that is accessible, as well as reasonably affordable. We will emphasize an increase in all licensed coaches (to improve the coach to player ratio) -- especially advanced licenses.
- Where possible we will utilize the resources of former national team players and professional players in technical, coaching and administrative capacities
- Again, the youth system will be revamped from entry and rec level to the Development Academy (as detailed elsewhere in this document), so that we arrest the massive attrition rate at U13 and so that we can create players who play with joy
ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT
If elected, how do you envision your role as President moving forward?
The President’s position in U.S. Soccer is really akin to the Chairperson of the Board of Directors. Section 4.2 of the current By-Laws describes the responsibilities of the President, and they are very much descriptive of a Board Chair (rather than a President). Any expansion of that role which may have occurred must have been done individually. Also, the fact that it is listed as an Officer position (President) rather than a Director position (Board Chair) does cause some confusion. The U.S. Soccer President position is not sited in Chicago with all the other day-to-day officers, and it is an unpaid position (full-time officers would be expected to work each day at organizational headquarters, and they would be salaried for their efforts). Also, in normal corporate governance, a CEO is the highest ranking officer, so this would mean that the U.S. Soccer President role is below the CEO in this case. Clarification is called for.
In that role, I see the President overseeing the work of the day-to-day officers (as Directors do), signing off on key initiatives and hires, and – to the extent that the next President is one who necessarily combines both deep soccer experience with organizational leadership and business experience – helping to develop some of those initiatives on a case-by-case basis (but never in an autocratic manner). The President will be respectful of and responsive to each of the councils, and policy will be developed collegially, such that the councils will have real input in shaping their own programs and futures. The President will be more objective in carrying out the responsibilities of the office, and understand that those responsibilities are equal as to each constituent member organization or individual.
What should your key roles and responsibilities be for the position and how do you describe success for the President for US Soccer?
Key roles and responsibilities would include:
1. Being an effective and accountable Leader of the organization, one who will include and inspire those who participate in the sport, and one with whom the buck will stop;
2. Drawing on the combination of considerable soccer and business experience necessary for the position to exercise sound Judgment in making decisions, leading the U.S. Soccer Board, overseeing the work of the officers and staff in Chicago, developing vision, building consensus, resolving disputes, negotiating, hiring (key upper management to implement policy and carry out day-to-day responsibilities), and establishing a path and a plan forward;
3. Ensuring that U.S. Soccer operate with Transparency and Openness, with proper corporate governance, appropriate for an American Non-Profit Organization;
4. Representing the interests of U.S. Soccer in the International community. This includes both 1) being an ethical standard bearer to help rid the sport we love so much of corruption; and 2) helping to make the U.S. a respected soccer nation around the world;
5. Ensuring that all Councils are included in decisions that affect their role and status within the U.S. Soccer framework;
6. Synthesizing the work and purpose of all councils together – whether Youth, Adult, Athlete’s or Pro – to recognize that every level of the sport is intertwined in an effort to elevate the sport forward together, whether at the youth, adult, pro or national teams level; and
7. Ensuring that U.S. Soccer is run in a Fiscally sound manner and at the same time with great expertise from a Technical Soccer perspective
Success for the U.S. Soccer President would include the following achievements:
- Stopping and reversing the concerning high attrition rate of youth players;
- Solving the infighting between youth and adult sanctioning organizations, which is holding the game back;
- Making all who devote their time for the good of the sport in this country feel respected and listened to, and giving them their voice back;
- Ensuring that every player who puts on a national team jersey for our country (which includes all national teams) feels properly respected and rewarded for their extraordinary accomplishment in reaching the national team;
- Setting a high ethical standard both within U.S. Soccer itself (running a transparent organization with proper corporate governance at all times) and internationally (FIFA reforms);
- Having both the organization and achievements of soccer in the U.S. become globally respected;
- Having contributed to the simultaneous growth and success of the sport at all levels in this country – youth, adult, pro and national teams;
- Having distributed effectively an appropriate amount of the current U.S. Soccer surplus to support additional programming at the youth and adult levels (including field development), to provide scholarships for youth players who otherwise cannot afford to participate in pay-to-play, to increase financial support of the NWSL, and to otherwise increase diversity and inclusion;
- Having helped successfully choose the next USMNT coach through an experienced, well-reasoned collegial, committee-based process (and having done the same for any other national team hires which become necessary);
- Having revamped the youth system and development system in a manner which serves kids well, and which ultimately produces players who are not only technically proficient, but who play with joy (something which is sadly lacking currently);
- Having run U.S. Soccer successfully from a commercial perspective, to support the funding of the organization’s programs consistent with its non-profit mission;
- Having advanced all national teams at all levels – both in terms of results on the field, but also in terms of working conditions.
Do you feel that this should be a paid position? Please explain your reasoning.
As explained above, the President position is really akin to Chair of the Board of Directors. As a general principle of good governance, members of the Board of Directors of non-profit organizations should not be paid. Steve Gans Page 6
Section 4.2 of the current By-Laws describes the responsibilities of the President, and they are very much descriptive of a Board Chair (rather than a President). The U.S. Soccer President position is not sited in Chicago with all the other day-to-day officers, and it is an unpaid position (full-time officers would be expected to work each day at organizational headquarters, and they would be salaried for their efforts).
Thus, as it seems clear that the President’s position is really Chair of the Board of Directors, it is appropriate that it is and continues to be an unpaid position.
Many people have been calling for more transparency from US Soccer, what specific ways do you see in providing this?
I will include members of councils and member organizations in the decision-making process, and that inherently improves transparency. No longer will there be edicts from 30,000 feet above in Chicago dropped in a vacuum upon members regarding their programs. There will be an iterative decision-making process, which takes into account both the substantial knowledge that people in the trenches have and their sentiments as to substantive proposals which will affect them. I also pledge to have Chicago staff be more responsive to concerns of members, and that more sincere dynamic will increase transparency. I will also be on the ground and have an open door policy, and will be personally responsive to members.
Ensuring that the non-profit organization which is U.S. Soccer follows appropriate non-profit law and principles (as an organization having a public mission, transparency and openness should be a bedrock principle) will inherently improve transparency as well.
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?
I pledge that under my administration, the women will reach pay parity with the men. Thus, the approach as to both the 2018 USMNT and 2021 USWNT will embody that goal. In terms of the approach generally as to negotiations regarding pay, benefits and working conditions with the USMNT and the USWNT (and for that matter, all national teams), it will be respectful and will recognize that each national team player has impressively reached the top of the playing pyramid.
As a former player myself (cup of coffee in the pros and numerous broken legs and surgeries), and having represented players in their contracts and personal matters, I understand and appreciate the sacrifice, trials and tribulations that go into trying to excel at the highest level, and so the tenor of those negotiations will be at all times responsive and respectful.
As an executive and attorney, I have been involved in many employment negotiations (both from the employer and employee sides), and so I think that provides me with a unique perspective. In terms of CBA and player union matters, in order to help the sport at a very crucial time when pro soccer in this country was struggling, I proposed the formation of an alternative MLS players union in 2001, when the existing lawsuit was suppressing players’ salaries and holding back the growth of the sport (you can see it here): https://www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/13249/mls-will-mls-players-wear-the-union-label.html. As always, that effort was not for personal gain, but rather for the good of the game, to solve an issue which was hurting players, fans and the growth of the sport in this country.
Please address the difference in salaries of the USWNT and USMNT teams.
USWNT players are salaried employees of U.S. Soccer, while USMNT players are not employees, and only get paid by U.S. Soccer when they are selected for camp, and they are eligible for significant roster and game bonuses -- it is more of a pay-to-play compensation structure on the men’s side.
The 2017 CBA entered into by the USWNT improved their financial compensation and work conditions, but there is work yet to be done. I pledge pay parity between the USWNT and USMNT under my administration. In addition, I pledge immediate equality in working conditions between the USWNT and the USMNT. In particular in this regard, the recent USWNT CBA evidently contains indefinite language regarding how often the USWNT can play on artificial turf as compared to the USMNT. It is my pledge that the USWNT will not play on artificial turf more often than the USMNT, and it is my hope that neither have to do so in the future, absent circumstances outside of U.S. Soccer’s control. I also would insert a “most favored nation” clause in each respective future USWNT and USMNT CBA, so that each would be automatically made whole and receive an escalator should the other receive an increase in per diems or other benefits following either entering into a new CBA with U.S. Soccer (and so as to avoid the recent wrong and embarrassment of the USWNT receiving less per diem than the USMNT following its (at the time) more recent entering into of a CBA).
What is the relationship between US Soccer and Soccer United Marketing and how does it affect the players?
SUM represents U.S. Soccer as to its television broadcast rights as well as most of its corporate sponsorships. The overriding concern in any agreement between a non-profit organization and a for-profit company is that the non-profit organization be treated fairly and that it receives fair market value in the transaction. Such transactions must be done with transparency, and certain steps aimed at ensuring that the non-profit receives fair market value must be followed. The need to ensure that fair market value is received by the non-profit is because the protection of its public and charitable purpose is a paramount principle, and so that its members and/or beneficiaries receive proper treatment (in this case, ensuring that U.S. Soccer receives fair market value in the transaction would contribute to ensuring that adequate funds were available to go to players, member organizations (for their programmatic needs) and other members of U.S. Soccer as appropriate).
An agreement of this magnitude must be done transparently, and I pledge transparency in every proposed transaction in my administration. If this type of transaction were proposed during my administration, appropriate non-profit principles would be followed to the letter, including: a) the negotiated terms of any proposed agreement would have to ensure that U.S. Soccer receives fair market value for the proposed services provided; b) any interested Directors (on either Board) would have to recuse themselves from the matter; and c) a survey of other possible vendors who could also provide the services would be conducted, so as to have independent confirmation that the proposed contract terms truly do represent fair market value to U.S. Soccer.
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?
At one earlier candidates’ forum, the final question was whether anyone on the panel that day had ever been a President of a company or organization, and I was the only who could answer yes. But this is not any old organization with 150 employees and a 100 million dollar budget, it is America’s soccer organization having those characteristics. The President’s job calls for one with a vast and continuous soccer background combined with deep business and organizational leadership experience, and I am proud to say that I am the only candidate with that background. As an executive (President and COO) and attorney (General Counsel), I have led a complex company with 150 employees in a very competitive market. As an attorney at a law firm, I have counseled male and female professional players, professional teams and DA and other youth clubs, as well as billion dollar companies regarding their legal matters. As a community volunteer, I have sat on Boards of many prominent non-profit organizations of similar size to U.S. Soccer.
Where specifically would the budget surplus be best spent and how will you measure the
success of those investments?
Part of the U.S. Soccer $130-$140 million surplus will be used to support additional programming at the youth and adult levels (including field development), to provide scholarships for youth players who otherwise cannot afford to participate in pay-to-play, and to increase diversity and inclusion. Part of that surplus will also be used to bolster the national team programs at every level, and to further contribute to the growth and stability of the NWSL.
In terms of measuring success, when a) the formal participation of urban and rural kids who otherwise are shut out of the pay-to-play system has increased in large numbers; b) fields have been built and/or maintained in order to bring and keep in more players in the game at both the youth and adult levels in measureable numbers; c) specific diversity efforts have brought into the game in significant numbers more women and minorities as either players, coaches or administrators; d) all national team players who wear the U.S. jersey at every level feel properly respected and rewarded for their achievement and accomplishments; and e) NWSL players feel that they can live as true professionals by playing in the league (in terms of salary and working conditions), and that the NWSL is viewed as the top women’s league in the world, that investment of the surplus money will be deemed a success.
PLAYER AND PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
What should US Soccer’s role be in player development? What are your plans to lead all of the various youth soccer organizations so player development is the priority?
Youth soccer is currently too fragmented, and there are many troubling turf wars which harm the kids and the growth of the sport. For example, some club teams have 2-3 registrations (cards) with various sanctioning organizations to play in various competitions – which causes confusion, frustration and inefficiencies (for example, excess insurance coverage). There is a very crowded competitive schedule that results in expensive travel, excess play at too young an age, and often, burnout. Too often, the goal becomes winning over player development. Many parts of my Platform address the current youth soccer problems (and indeed crisis). There will be a summit of key decision makers with U.S. Soccer guidance and leadership. U.S. Soccer needs to take a leadership position that brings all the various soccer organizations together and creates a structure that everyone can find acceptable. It can be done. We can create a unified competitive schedule – perhaps one event that all national affiliates can compete in against each other. Player development over winning will be emphasized. Good housekeeping standards (and seals of approval from U.S. Soccer to which parents can refer) will be instituted so that there can be quality control within the vast youth club landscape. We must coach the coaches and increase the number of licensed coaches so as to ensure that youth players are getting appropriate training and development. The Development Academy must be substantially revamped, to eliminate the utterly ridiculous strictures which come down from Chicago at 30,000 feet without input from those in the trenches – aimed at making the DA players more “professional” in their mindset, but which sucks the life and joy out of these players, and creates technically sound yet joyless players.
We will produce players who maintain their love for the sport throughout their progression through the system.
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?
I have studied the Netherlands, Germany, England, Belgium and Iceland. The important lesson here is that we can learn something from each of these countries, but we have to modulate what we do learn when applying it to Americans and in America, as the mores and culture are different here. Again, mandating from 30,000 feet in Chicago that we wholesale implement the approach and systems from (say) Belgium (because they have produced world class players though merely a country of 11 million) is off in its judgment, and it does not take into account what makes America different (and thus, why some elements we observe in another country might and might not work here). We should take the best of what we learn, and modulate it so it might have effective applicability here (and reject the elements that we know are unlikely to work here).
What are your specific plans for the Beach Soccer, Futsal, and Paralympic National Teams?
I learned of the marginalization of the Beach Soccer, Futsal and Paralympic National Teams around the time of my October meeting in Orlando with the Athlete’s Council, and in individual conversations. I will ensure as President that these national team players will be treated with respect and will be appropriately rewarded both for their extraordinary accomplishment in making the national team and for the fact that they are representing the United States, and they are wearing a jersey that all of us as players would aspire to.
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.
I have been on record for some time as saying that U.S. Soccer will provide more financial support to the NWSL, whether those funds come from the current surplus or the A&E TV deal. Having represented the Boston Breakers, and also having advised an NWSL player, I understand the challenges faced by players and management in the league. We need to do what it takes to make the NWSL the women’s league of choice in the world. The current talent drain out of the league by star players must be addressed, and we need to reverse that and make the NWSL the league where everyone wants to play.
In terms of keeping the USWNT on top, we need to ensure that they receive the safest and finest working conditions (both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do). We need to provide opportunity and fill the administrative ranks of the sport with women, as well as provide national team and club coaching and DOC opportunities for women. There should be more coaching education and referee programs for women, and club Board positions for women. The elite leagues (e.g., the Development Academy the ECNL, NPL and USYSNL) should work together to forge positive player development and programming on the girls side. The framework should foster the realistic belief in young girls that they can spend their lives in the game, whether as a player, coach or administrator.
How do you address the problem of soccer being a “pay to play” type of system that we now have?
As I have said elsewhere in this document, the current surplus will be partially used to help defray pay-to-play, and to ensure that youth players who otherwise cannot afford to formally participate will be able to do so. Scholarships should be used to bring into the fold deserving young players and to increase diversity. Also, solving the solidarity payment issue in the direction of clubs receiving development fees can also partially ameliorate the pay-to-play expense. Further, making clubs realistically communicate with parents of young players (e.g., they ought not tell every parent of a U11 player that their son/daughter will receive a college scholarship) might also reign in the seemingly ever-expanding pay-to-play fees.
What specific plans do you have to increase participation and make soccer less expensive and more inclusive?
Again, as noted above, part of the surplus will be used to help defray pay-to-play, to increase diversity and bring into the sport those who otherwise might not be able to formally participate because of cost. Also, making clubs be “honest brokers” to parents (e.g., not promising every parent that their U11 child will receive a college scholarship) could reign in the pay-to-play fees. Other measures that could increase participation, make it less expensive and more inclusive include the following:
- Making league competition more local, and decreasing the amount of travel involved
- Reversing the birth year rule at the younger ages, and in rec and town play, which has contributed to the alarming attrition rate of youth players
- Attempting to be more attractive to Latino and other unaffiliated leagues, so that they will consider affiliating (efforts in this regard could include: a) programming that appeals to these market segments; b) coaching and staff education; c) referees programming and access to qualified affiliated referees; and d) a safer environment: background checks, qualified referees, parent education, unified disciplinary procedures)
- Deemphasizing winning, and focusing on development
- In particular as to the adult game, providing reasonable pricing and varied options to make participation accessible for those who want to keep playing (including for men’s, women’s, co-ed, open, over 30, 40, 50 and 60 leagues)
What governance structure(s) would you create to improve player development across all programs?
There are many structural initiatives that I would propose, amongst them:
- I will institute an atmosphere on the Youth Council Technical Working Group that welcomes and encourages feedback, wherein national team staff listens and is more interactive and transparent in establishing player development initiatives (from my Platform)
- We will identify and recruit former pro players and national team players to be part of the technical staff in greater numbers, to help develop goals, strategies and plans
- In terms of measuring progress, there will be accountability and progress measured in shorter 2-3 year increments (rather than past long term unaccountable pronouncements, such as Project 2010). Standards of progress will be clearer
- There will be a thorough review of the national youth staff (in terms of evaluating the responsibilities, performance, pay structure, regional/national set-up, and level of staffing)
- We will increase the number of youth scouts, and thoughtfully spread them around the country in a manner which improves on the current framework
- The U.S. Development Academy will be revamped. A top-to-bottom review of the Development Academy program will be conducted, in order to assess what is working and what is not. The uninformed dysfunctional edicts from 30,000 feet above which contribute to the creation of joyless players shall be eliminated. We will preserve what is working right about the DA, and eliminate the naïve and senseless rules which are counterproductive to successful player development. Liberalization of the high school participation restrictions will be explored (from my Platform)
SUPPORT OF NATIONAL TEAMS
During 2017, how many MNT games did you attend?
I did not attend any in person; however, I watched all games on television.
During 2017, how many men's professional league games did you attend?
4 (1 MLS and 3 Premier League)
During 2017, how many WNT games did you attend?
I did not attend any in person; however, I watched all games on television.
During 2017, how many NWSL games did you attend?
During 2017, how many streaming broadcasts of the Paralympic National Team World Championships in Argentina did you watch?
I did not watch any. Candidly, I only became familiar with (and sympathetic to) the issues facing the Paralympic National Team around the time I met with the Athlete’s Council in October in Orlando before the Panama game and in individual conversations around that time.
During 2017, how many streaming broadcasts of the Beach National Team did you watch (CONCACAF Championship or other)?
I did not watch any. Similar to the immediately above answer, I candidly only became familiar with (and sympathetic to) the issues facing the Beach National Team around the time I met with the Athlete’s Council in October in Orlando before the Panama game and in individual conversations around that time.