With the U.S. Soccer presidential campaign in full swing ahead of the Feb. 10 election in Orlando, SI.com highlighted the issue of campaign funding transparency this week by asking all eight candidates if 1) they have funded the entirety of their campaigns out of their own pocket, and 2) if not, who their top three funders are and 3) whether those funders have any business before U.S. Soccer.
There is nothing in U.S. Soccer’s rules against receiving financial support for the campaign, including travel costs.
Four of the candidates told SI.com they have funded their campaigns entirely out of their own pockets: Paul Caligiuri, Carlos Cordeiro, Hope Solo and Michael Winograd.
Kathy Carter said she and her partner, David Linn, are funding her campaign.
Here are the responses from the other three candidates:
Steve Gans: The Boston-based lawyer said he has funded his campaign with his own money and with limited contributions from three friends, none of whom have business before U.S. Soccer. Those friends are Joe Larkin, Chris Lemley and another who said his company’s policy did not allow him to go public on such matters.
Kyle Martino: The former player and on-leave NBC Sports analyst provided the names of six donors, all but one of whom said they had no business before U.S. Soccer. Five of them said they were fine publicizing their names: Rick Van Benschoten, Eric Eisner, Ralph Martino, Matt Popoli and Michael Meyer. The sixth donor did not wish to make his name public. Popoli, the president of New York Surf Soccer Club, said his non-profit club is hoping to get into the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
Eric Wynalda: The former player and on-leave Fox Sports analyst said his top three funders were two family members, who have no business before U.S. Soccer, and Riccardo Silva, the founder of the media company MP & Silva and the owner of the NASL’s Miami FC.
Silva does have business before U.S. Soccer. He has been the most public proponent of introducing promotion and relegation to club soccer in the United States. In August, Silva was part of a group that brought a claim to the Court of Arbitration for Sport asking for FIFA, CONCACAF and U.S. Soccer to require an opportunity to be promoted. In July, Silva publicized his $4 billion offer to MLS for its next rights deal, an offer that required MLS to accept promotion and relegation. (MLS said it couldn’t even consider the offer until a non-exclusive period starts for negotiations on the next deal for post-2022.)
Last week, Wynalda spoke about best practices for leagues at a conference in Dubai that included FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone and Fabio Capello, currently the coach at China’s Jiangsu Suning. The conference is part-owned by Silva.
Silva is one of the most powerful owners in the NASL, which has an ongoing legal case against U.S. Soccer over the federation’s refusal to grant second-division status to the league for 2018. NASL owners recently voted unanimously to support Wynalda in the election.