USSF Athlete Council Reform

In Episode 9 of Soccer Works, I briefly described some of the issues surrounding the current US Soccer Athlete Council. The problem with the current structure (see section “Current Athlete Council Info” below) and operation of the Athlete Council is that it is essentially a semi-closed circuit of perpetuation that is ripe for corruption, self-serving interests, and isolation.

The Athlete Council currently nominates members from a list of Athletes as defined by the Ted Stevens Act. Nominations are not solicited or made public.

This council should represent the interests of all athletes, even if all athletes are unavailable to serve on the council due to the requirements and qualifications of the Stevens Act. For example: to serve on the Athlete Council, an Athlete is defined as anyone who has competed for their respective National Team within the last two years OR anyone who has competed in a major world championship within the last ten years.

So how can the Athlete Council be restructured in compliance with the Ted Stevens Act to improve the ability of the Athlete Council to represent and serve all soccer players in the U.S.? The creation of the “Player Congress.”


The Player Congress could be formed by the Athlete Council to do several things:

  • Nominate new Athlete Council Members
  • Elect new Athlete Council Members
  • Serve as Official USSF Ambassadors for the Athlete Council in their respective State Association to better serve the grassroots
  • Assist the Athlete Council with the creation and implementation of new programs and initiatives

The Player Congress should consist of one (1) male and one (1) female representative from each of the fifty-five* (55) state association territories for a total of 110 representatives. Representatives would be elected through a public vote by residents of their state association territory to serve four (4) year terms. Any registered player eighteen (18) years or older would be eligible to serve as a Player Congress Representative. A term limit of a maximum two (2) terms should be implemented.

The creation and implementation of the Player Congress would connect all athletes from professionals to amateurs and help give the Athlete Council better insight into the needs of all players. It would also hold accountable the Athlete Council Members to faithfully and dutifully fulfill their obligations to serve ALL soccer players in the U.S.

(*NOTE: California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas each have two (2) state association territories.)


According to the official site for the US Soccer Athlete Council, below is the information regarding the current structure of the council:

What is the Athlete Council?

The United States Soccer Federation’s Athlete Council is a group of twenty athletes who are elected by their peers. The purpose of the council as laid out in U.S. Soccer’s bylaws is to:

  • Provide a broader means of communication between Athletes and the Federation
  • Make reports and recommendations to the Board of Directors about matters affecting Athletes

Why does the Federation have an Athlete Council?

The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act of 1978 (amended 1998):

  • Defines an athlete to be anyone who has competed for their respective National Team within the last two years OR anyone who has competed in a major world championship within the last ten years.
  • Mandates that athletes be 20% of the voice and vote in Olympic Sport in the United States
  • The 20% rule applies to:
    • USOC Board and Committees
    • U.S. Soccer Board and Committees (Budget, Nominating, and Governance)
    • Also mandates that the USOC has an Athletes’ Advisory Council

Who is on our Council?

Chris Ahrens (Chair)

Carlos Bocanegra (Vice-Chair)

Shannon Boxx

Brian Ching

Cindy Cone (Advisor)

Brad Guzan

Stuart Holden

Lauren Holiday

Angela Hucles (Vice-Chair)

Lori Lindsay 

Will John

Kate Markgraf

John O’Brien (USOC, Alternate)

Heather O’Reilly

Leslie Osborne

Nick Perera

Christie Rampone

Gavin Sibayan

Jonathan Spector

Lindsay Tarpley

Aly Wagner (USOC)

*USOC indicates athletes who also serve on the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council 



Section 3.
(a) At least twenty (20) percent of the votes eligible to be cast at a National Council must be Athletes, and the Credentials Committee shall make necessary adjustments to ensure that this twenty (20) percent Athlete requirement is satisfied.

(b) Athlete delegates to the National Council shall be determined by the Athletes’ Council.

(c) One individual may cast all or part of the votes for the Athletes at a National Council meeting, but that individual may not cast votes for any other Organization Member or individual at the meeting. The individual may cast the votes as an Athlete delegate as determined by the Athletes’ Council.

(d) To ensure at least twenty (20) percent Athlete representation on the National Council, the votes of the Athlete delegates shall be multiplied by an Athlete Council multiplier. The multiplier shall be calculated as follows: ((TWV/.8) – TWV)/AD rounded off to two (2) decimal places. “TWV” means the total weighted vote of all non-Athlete delegates at the National Council. “AD” means the number of Athlete delegates at the National Council meeting.


Section 1. The Federation shall have an Athletes’ Council to represent its Athletes. All Athletes are eligible to vote to elect Athlete representatives to the Athletes’ Council. An Athlete must be 18 years of age to serve on the Athletes’ Council. Athletes may determine the number of representatives on the Athletes’ Council.

Section 2. The Athletes’ Council shall have the following responsibilities:
(a) to provide a broader means of communication between Athletes and the Federation;
(b) to make reports and recommendations to the Board about matters affecting 
(c) to elect representative and alternate to the United States Olympic Committee’s 
Athletes’ Advisory Council;
(d) to elect Athletes to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee;
(e) to select Athlete delegates to the National Council;
(f) to approve the appointment of Athletes to serve on Federation committees as 
required by the USOC; and
(g) to establish internal operating policies and procedures consistent with the Sports 
Act, the USOC bylaws, and these Bylaws.


Section 1. The Athletes’ Council shall prescribe procedures for the nomination and election of Athletes to serve on the Athletes’ Council. The Athletes’ Council shall elect its Athlete representatives to four (4) year terms including the Athlete representatives and alternate to the USOC Athlete Advisory Council who shall serve in accordance with Bylaw 323. These elections shall be held every November in even numbered years. There shall be twenty (20) Athlete representatives and they shall serve staggered terms as determined by the Athletes’ Council

Section 2. The Athletes elected under section 1 of this Bylaw shall determine amongst themselves who is to serve a two (2) year term on the Board.


The Athletes shall nominate and elect from amongst themselves a representative and an alternate to the United States Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Advisory Council. The representative and alternate shall serve four (4) year terms coinciding with the years in which the summer Olympic Games are held. The representative and alternate may not be of the same gender. The election shall be held at a time every fourth year so that the representative and alternate elected may take office at least sixty (60) days before the first meeting of the board of directors of the USOC after the summer games. A representative or alternate may not serve more than two (2) full terms.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.