As the deadline approaches for US Soccer presidential nominees to step forward and get on the ballot, many didn’t know whether or not current three-term President Sunil Gulati would run for another four-year term. Gulati still hasn’t publicly said whether or not he’s running but it seems like he isn’t and has someone in mind he wants as his successor.
SI’s Grant Wahl reported Saturday night that Gulati was “strongly considering” not running for re-election. And Gulati’s plan would be to recommend Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter to run for the position. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle went one step further and discovered via a source that said they would put Carter at a “95 percent” chance of running for US Soccer President. And Carter herself made a statement about “exploring” a run.
“I am exploring a run for President of the United States Soccer Federation because soccer can and should become the leading sport in America, and I believe I could help make that vision a reality,” Carter said in a statement via email.
“The game of soccer has been a consistent thread through every aspect of my life. I have spent over 40 years as a player, executive and fan of the beautiful game. Going forward, our growth and advancement as a sport requires excellence at every level — from our youth and adult programs to our professional leagues and our national teams.”
Not too many people may be aware who Kathy Carter is but she seems to have the experience to take on the role if elected. Carter has been a part of soccer in this country since being on the organization committee of the 1994 World Cup. From there, Carter has been VP of the company that owns the LA Galaxy and had been an executive of other groups including ISL United States, a company that had went bankrupt due to paying bribes to FIFA officials. Carter wasn’t implicated in any form of corruption.
Before being in her current position, Carter was a VP of Corporate Marketing with MLS. Carter moved over to SUM to take charge of the company that serves as the for-profit marketing arm of MLS as well as US Soccer.
While this seems all well and good and Carter seems to have the credentials, this connection she has is certainly a red flag to many fans and maybe even a red flag to those people in administrative roles who are voting as well. To many, SUM, when paired with US Soccer and MLS, is seen as a conflict of interest and a big reason why Gulati’s opponents want him out in the first place. Putting Carter in this position, in addition to having Gulati’s rumored blessing, isn’t going to help smooth fears that this is a continuation of the status quo. That this could some way be a ploy by Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber to put in someone they want to lead US Soccer and keep the relationship between the three entities as strong as they can, no matter what any of them say.
Not only that, but Carter is running up against the clock and is currently behind the eight ball on seven other candidates. With some candidates like attorney Steve Gans, they have been campaigning since this summer. For others like former player Eric Wynalda, he announced his intention to run soon after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup in October. And for someone like former player Kyle Martino, who announced his bid about a month ago, has been playing a bit of catchup to some of the other candidates. Other candidates include current US Soccer VP Carlos Cordeiro, former player Paul Caligiuri, attorney Mike Winograd and businessman Paul Lapointe.
Carter has until December 12 to pass the requirements to be on the ballot for the vote. By the 12th, Carter must have at least three recommendations nominating her for US Soccer President. And every day that goes by, the bigger disadvantage she’s in because over the past month, the other candidates have been meeting and campaigning with various administrators to obtain recommendations and votes. So even though the election doesn’t happen until February, more and more voters are having their minds made up on who they are voting for before Carter has even entered the race.
If Carter does run, she will be the only female candidate for US Soccer President. A couple months ago, former USWNT player Julie Foudy talked about how she felt it was impossible for a woman to be US Soccer President because of a lack of gender diversity at the top positions of US Soccer as well as the job being an unpaid position that requires working full time hours. Kathy Carter may get a chance to be the head of US Soccer, but she’s going to have many challenges ahead of her. That doesn’t mean it’ll stop her.
[ESPN/Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images]