It’s Time for Others to Do What US Soccer’s Board Have Not

If you have paid any attention to the inner workings of the United States Soccer Federation over the last several years, you will know that the Board of Directors have failed in several key responsibilities. According to the Harvard Business Review, “the board of directors’ most important function is to approve or send back for amendment management’s recommendations about the future direction of the corporation [or organization].”

According to, A nonprofit organization’s board of directors determines the policies and plans of the organization. It is also responsible for hiring the top executive(s), strategic planning, policy development, oversight and management, budgeting, and fundraising.

What has been made very clear in the last week is this: the US Soccer Board of Directors has been unable or unwilling to fulfill its fiduciary duties. It has failed to hire top executives, provide a strategic plan for accomplishing its mission, updated policies to improve the governance and operations of the Federation, and as we have seen very clearly: its oversight and management has been alarmingly lacking.

Don Garber

The Federation’s Board is comprised of individuals who hold disproportionate power. For example, Don Garber is the MLS Commissioner, CEO of Soccer United Marketing, and the de facto ruler of the Professional Council. His multitude of conflicts of interest combined with his unrivaled power makes his influence and presence on the Board a major issue. Due to the Soccer United Marketing contract with US Soccer (which was awarded via a no-bid contract), Garber has the ability to influence members of the Athlete Council, Youth Council, and Adult Council with access to media jobs, national team events, and other commercial activities.

With Garber on the Board and his influence over others on the Board, it is very clear that this current US Soccer Board of Directors can not and should not be trusted to investigate and reform itself. It is compromised, and it is time for an independent commission to be formed to review and investigate the internal operations and actions of the Board as well as recommend and oversee the implementation of necessary reforms to correct and improve its operations.

An independent commission is necessary and it is time to fix and clean up these issues once and for all. There are members of the current Board who have impressive backgrounds, but the culture within the Board has been an ongoing problem for so long. Swapping seats on the Board does not equate to structural changes, the kinds of changes that can change the culture and operations of the Board. 

Even if Cindy Parlow Cone intends to make sweeping and necessary changes to how the Board is run, and that yet remains to be seen, she will be dealing with a Board full of status quo operators who have self interests and a history of failures to lead and serve effectively. The best thing Cone can do at the moment is champion a full review by a fully independent commission and make their recommendations public and the Board’s implementation plans and progress public as well.

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