Jay Berhalter, U.S. Soccer's chief commercial officer and brother of U.S. men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter, is leaving the federation, U.S. Soccer announced Thursday night.
Jay Berhalter had come under fire amid anonymous Glassdoor reviews that uncovered a toxic culture within U.S. Soccer this past summer, and his presence as an executive within the federation led to concerns over a conflict of interest, given his familial ties to the USMNT coach.
Nevertheless, he maintained his high position of influence and importance within the federation and was thought to be a front-runner for the vacant CEO position within the federation, with the departed Dan Flynn's seat yet to be filled amid a lengthy search process. Flynn left the federation in September, but he announced his intentions to step away long before then. SI's Grant Wahl reported on Wednesday that Berhalter was no longer a candidate for the position, though, with, with a U.S. Soccer source saying that "he did not receive positive reviews from U.S. Soccer employees in a recent anonymous survey conducted by the federation."
According to U.S. Soccer's announcement, he is not being pushed out of the federation and is instead leaving on his own volition at the end of the month.
As chief commercial officer, Berhalter was responsible for spearheading a number of efforts, including the highly successful 2016 Copa America Centenario, which left U.S. Soccer with a reserve of over $160 million after a profit of $75 million on that event alone.
“Jay has played an invaluable role in the growth of our Federation and the evolution of the game in our country,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said in a statement. “His deep understanding of all the technical, commercial, and business aspects of the sport will have a lasting impact on the game across America.”
Berhalter spent 15 years with the federation across two stints, and he served as chief operating officer for the 2003 Women's World Cup, which was relocated from China to the United States amid the SARS epidemic and organized in just four months. He also led the effort to create the Boys' Development Academy in 2007 before leaving the federation in 2009. He returned in 2014 in his current role, which included leading the federation's rebranding.
“Having been involved in the sport since the 1994 World Cup and the start of Major League Soccer, working towards the mission of making soccer the preeminent sport in the U.S. has been a fantastic opportunity throughout my career,” Jay Berhalter said in a statement. “I am fortunate to have worked with so many passionate teammates and proud of what we have been able to accomplish together at all levels of the game. My decision to leave U.S. Soccer was not an easy one to make, but it’s the right one for my family and me at this time. Looking to the future, it is exciting to imagine the opportunities that lie ahead.”
The search to fill Berhalter's vacated position will begin immediately, the federation said, while the search to fill the CEO void continues. Of note on the U.S. Soccer calendar is the federation's annual general meeting, which is slated to be held in Nashville next week.