CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro took issue with the image of a leaderless organization with no CEO and a poor work environment, though he acknowledged room to improve.
"I think it's unfair to characterize us as being leaderless and in crisis," he said following a board of directors meeting. "Would we rather have a CEO today? Of course we would. But we don't want to rush an appointment and then find out it's the wrong person."
Cordeiro said the search committee met Thursday with a short list of candidates to replace longtime CEO Dan Flynn, who announced plans to step down in February and worked his last day in mid-September. He said it includes men and women from around the U.S. and one from outside the country, though he wouldn't reveal how many are on it. He would not say if it includes internal candidates.
Cordeiro said the organization switched search firms in May because he wasn't happy with the pool of candidates the first company presented.
"They've produced an incredible list of people," he said. "Maybe earlier in the year, there was some hesitancy on the part of candidates to want to come talk to us given a lot of the issues out there. Maybe in September, some of that got clarified, perhaps."
One issue is a projected $20.3 million deficit for the 2020 fiscal year that's about $6 million than initially anticipated, mainly because of an expected $9 million in legal fees stemming from lawsuits. That includes one by members of the World Cup champion women's team, who say they their compensation is not equitable to the men's.
The federation expects $160 million in reserves to shrink to about $50 million through 2023 as part of a five-year plan because of the lawsuits and other expenses associated with running the organization and growing the game. U.S. Soccer has been adding staff in recent years.
The organization is also looking to move out of its headquarters — Soccer House — in Chicago's South Loop because it needs more room. It will look to lease space elsewhere in the city for a few years while it figures out a long-term plan. That could mean building one training facility housing both the soccer and administrative operations or multiple facilities around the country.
The work environment is also changing in response to criticisms posted on the networking site glassdoor.com in June. They included poor pay, long hours and a “toxic” culture.
Cordeiro called those posts a wakeup call.
"Up until very recently, we still managed U.S. Soccer like it was a 50-person organization run out of some person's kitchen," Cordeiro said. "Glassdoor was a good wakeup call because it did alert us to potentially some tremor lines."
U.S. Soccer gave all 185 staffers $2,000 bonuses for the women's World Cup victory. The federation is changing its dress codes, comp time policies and scheduling practices for employees. And it wants to create "talent committee" to evaluate the CEO and other leaders.
"We have been very mindful of all of the things that have been circulating around publicly about the challenges in the office," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "(This is) a step in acknowledging and recognizing that staffs get the challenges of having to deal with some of the negativity that you have no control over."
Notes: Sporting director Earnie Stewart said no men’s players have expressed any concerns about plans to train in Qatar next month to prepare for the 2022 World Cup. FIFA’s decision to hold its showcase event there has come under criticism because of human rights issues as well as the country’s oppressive heat. “Not at this moment. There’s gonna be a World Cup there three years from now, and we’re gonna be there,” Stewart said. “We look at it from a sports performance standpoint and how can we best perform in 2022.”