Carlos Cordeiro is the latest candidate for U.S. Soccer president to join the Planet Fútbol Podcast to discuss his vision, the contentious issues and more.
As part of the Planet Fútbol podcast’s interviews with the candidates for U.S. Soccer president, we spoke to candidate and current U.S. Soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro this week.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation, the entirety of which can be heard in the podcast console below. You can also download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
How do you balance the notion that you have been an insider on the federation board for the past 11 years … while ALSO trying to represent yourself as a candidate for change?
Cordeiro: That encapsulates the challenge I’ve got: To convince our members that I do represent change. And for that I would remind you that I came in in 2007 as an independent director. It’s very important to understand what that means. You have to be an outsider to be an independent director. You can’t be independent if you’re an insider. So to say I’m an insider is factually wrong.
I came in without any prior tie to a state association, youth or adult. I wasn’t a former national athlete. I wasn’t part of a council. I’ve never been associated with a club or a league. I came in truly as an independent director to provide impartial advice at the highest levels of U.S. Soccer. Now if you can imagine showing up to class for eight days out of the year, it takes you a while to figure out how things go. And that’s kind of how the board was run. You had four meetings, two days a meeting, eight days out of 365. You tell me how far you can go.
So I took it upon myself, I volunteered for more. I didn’t have to become treasurer. I didn’t have to take on the budget committee. I chaired our pro league task force. I volunteered for all of this. I got involved … in our 2010 bid [for hosting World Cup 2022] that we lost to Qatar. But through all of those experiences, it dawned on me that the organization hadn’t really changed since the 1990s. I mean, yes, financially it had grown, but I came in, the budget was about $30 million per annum. Next week you’re going to see a budget of $110 million. That’s four times as large as it was 10 years ago.
Obviously something is going right. We are putting money to work, and there’s plenty of evidence. We can agree to disagree on some of the programming, but there’s plenty of evidence of progress and success. The federation has had a lot of success. But structurally and from a governance standpoint it hadn’t evolved. It was still a relatively, I would say, parochial is not the right word, but it was still a small federation run without an audit committee. We only had our first audit committee, we brought it in last February.
If you do not win this election, will you stay in your role as vice president of U.S. Soccer?
Cordeiro: Well, my term doesn’t actually expire until the year 2020. So I would be the one candidate if I didn’t win where I would continue on as vice president to the end of my term. I can’t commit beyond that term whether I would run again, but that obviously depends on the circumstances then and how things are going. But I intend to complete my term, yes.
One of the things that has been put out there about you is that Chuck Blazer, the disgraced former FIFA executive, is the guy that you were his personal banker and that’s how you got connected to U.S. Soccer. And I don’t think that is accurate, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to address that.
Cordeiro: Thank you for asking that question. I mean, yes, I have been subject to some of these anonymous videos. The one you’re referring to played heavily during the convention in Philadelphia. But look, of course I knew Chuck Blazer. Anyone and everyone that matters in U.S. Soccer knew Chuck Blazer. He was our man, the American, at FIFA House. A long time ago, long before I got involved, he was vice president of the federation. He had the seat I occupy. So most anyone and everyone who’s been involved with the sport would have met Chuck in one form or another.
I actually met Chuck, funny enough, we were both volunteers for New York’s City’s Olympic bid back in the 2003 or ’04 or ’05 period. When I volunteered I was on that board, and Chuck was on that board, and I think a few others. I don’t remember, maybe [Don] Garber was on it, maybe Sunil [Gulati]. Basically anyone who had anything to do with New York, from the cardinal to a bunch of other luminaries were on that board. That’s how I met Chuck initially. And I was two or three years later invited by Sunil to become U.S. Soccer’s first independent director.
But the suggestion that I was some close personal friend of [Blazer] … in fact, I was living in Asia those years. Or that I was his private banker, that confuses what I did at Goldman Sachs. My role at Goldman Sachs, I ran some very large businesses that had as clients governments, major corporations around the world. I wasn’t involved in private banking in the slightest. So I think it was a bit unfair, whoever put that video together, to suggest what they did.