Former U.S. men’s national team midfielder and current NBC Sports soccer analyst Kyle Martino has announced his candidacy for U.S. Soccer president.
Martino, who had previously said he would not run due to the volunteer, unpaid nature of the position and his “dream job” at NBC Sports, will temporarily leave the NBC gig to join a field that now includes seven candidates. Incumbent Sunil Gulati has not yet said whether he will seek re-election.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision and it’s not one I take lightly,” Martino wrote on a new campaign website. “But many conversations over recent weeks have convinced me that I need to step forward. US Soccer is at the lowest point of its modern existence, with failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup merely a symptom of bigger issues. We need a change, not just of direction but of vision and ambition. It’s time to put soccer back at the center of the United States Soccer Federation.”
“Right now is an inflection point in history of soccer in this country,” Martino wrote on Twitter. “Our next choice has enormous consequences for the future of our game. Accountability is needed. The era of blaming bad-breaks or systemic failures is over. We need a leader to hold us to a higher standard.”
On equality, he told The Times: “Our women are World Cup winners. Why are they playing on artificial surfaces? Why are they sleeping in beds with bed bugs? Why aren’t they paid the same as the men? And if you look at the U.S. soccer structure, why don’t women have positions of influence? There are no good answers to these questions.”
Martino is the third former U.S. national team player to declare. Here are all seven candidates, in the order in which they’ve announced their candidacies:
- Steve Gans, an attorney from Boston who has wide-ranging experience in soccer, from youth to pro
- Paul Lapointe, the Northeast Conference manager of the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL)
- Eric Wynalda, former U.S. men’s national team forward, former coach and executive in second-tier American leagues, and current Fox Sports analyst
- Michael Winograd, an attorney from New York City whose primary experience is as a former college player
- Carlos Cordeiro, current United States Soccer Federation vice president to Sunil Gulati
- Paul Caligiuri, former U.S. men’s national team midfielder
Gulati and others could yet join the race.
One key note, with so many names now in the mix: According to a source with knowledge of the voting process, a majority – 50 percent plus one – is required to win the presidency. That puts to bed any concerns about the various challengers splitting the vote.
In other words, if the top vote receiver garners 35 percent of the vote, he or she does not win; instead, the election goes to another round. The runoffs continue until one candidate has won a true majority, rather than merely a plurality.
The election will take place February 8-11 at U.S. Soccer’s annual general meeting in Orlando.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.