2018 U.S. Soccer Presidential Election Candidate Kathy Carter on Making the U.S. one of the Greatest Soccer Nations in the World
“THE MOST CRUCIAL TIMES ARE WHEN THE MOST CAPABLE LEADERS NEED TO STEP UP.”
The race to replace U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati has polarized our fractured soccer ecosystem. The candidates are Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda and with only a short time till the election on February 10th, there is still no clear favorite.
Here is our coverage of the race as Kathy Carter takes her turn to Speak Out.
While many think of Kathy Carter as the President of Soccer United Marketing (SUM) — the person responsible for development and monetization for the MLS and U.S. Soccer, many forget Carter was raised a homegrown, all American soccer player.
“I played at every level I could,” says Carter.
“Ultimately, I didn’t continue my career inside the white lines, but I have surely been involved in the game at an exponential level.”
To refer to Kathy Carter as a highly successful business person and ignore her passion for being a player is simply wrong. With decades of experience in soccer, Carter’s career spans the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee to closing contracts worth billions of dollars as the head of SUM. Carter certainly has an enviable track record in any industry and unique in the soccer landscape.
Link to Kathy Carter’s Platform Focus on the Future released last week.
Growing up in Fairfax, out side of DC, she joined her first local recreational team at just the age of seven, and progressed into club, ODP, Regional, and Youth National Camps and became a starter for the nationally-ranked College of William and Mary.
Of course, Carter has the support of the MLS but she is highly endorsed by a diverse spectrum of supporters. Last week, endorsements for Carter include Utah Youth Soccer President Brian Smith who says Carter checks off every box he has and Eastern NY Adult Soccer’s Peter Pinori who is effusive of his praise of her dedication and devotion to the beautiful game.
“THIS GAME HAS GIVEN ME EVERYTHING, AND IT’S NOT OFTEN THAT YOU CAN HAVE AN IMPACT ON SOMETHHING THAT HAS GIVEN YOU EVERYTHING.”
SoccerToday met Carter in Philadelphia and then interviewed her on the phone and was profoundly impressed with her knowledge — and her passion for connecting the disconnected leaders of the game.
Who is the right candidate to help soccer become the preeminent sport in America? What is the best path for future success? Are we experiencing the growing pains of the tremendous growth of our sport? Is our soccer landscape fractured because of ideology or implementation and a lack of clear, inclusive communication?
Here is our interview with Kathy Carter:
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes you the right candidate to be the next president?
Kathy Carter: My 40 years in the game — I have the most comprehensive background that can lead the change that our Federation needs for the next generation.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your goal as president?
Kathy Carter: For the USA to become one of the greatest soccer nations in the world.
Diane Scavuzzo: What needs to change?
Kathy Carter: We need to change our focus — for example, in the women’s game, we must change from looking in the rear view mirror to the horizon. We must also empower our grassroots, as we are only going to be as good as our base.
We need to dig into the youth and grassroots space — it is really hard for parents to identify a way through the system. And, the most critical of all — is to give opportunities back to the kids. We are in a position now where we can really help the grassroots.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can the U.S. Soccer Federation do more effectively to increase participation in the game of soccer?
Kathy Carter: We can give autonomy back to the state associations. I want to work to make the states run effectively and reduce the level of bureaucracy.
We have tremendously capable people working on the state level and I want to empower them through collaboration.
Once you bring people in as part of the solution, they can more effectively execute programs.
Today, we don’t know how many kids we are missing. We don’t know how much money parents are spending in the sport. We lack details about where we are. I have experience managing this process and we need a stronger base of information to make better decisions.
We can use data to de-emotionalize the issues. Today, it is everyone’s opinion.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your thoughts on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA)?
Kathy Carter: We need to ask the hard questions and take a hard look at the DA. There are those who feel forgotten.
There are clearly unintended consequences of exclusivity instead of creating choices. Did the DA deliver what we thought? Definitely our goals were not well communicated. We did not listen enough — and, we need to help all parts of soccer be successful.
There is only one source of revenue in grassroots and that is the parents — and, there are lots of other sources of revenue in the other areas of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about the relationship between U.S. Soccer and SUM?
Kathy Carter: What people don’t know is that it totally de-risked everything for U.S. Soccer. There wasn’t anyone else out there who wanted to lose money — and was willing to lose money for 3 or 4 years.
SUM has invested 6 billion dollars and without this investment and companies like Nike, the sport would never have grown to what it is today.
Diane Scavuzzo: I have to ask, what it is like to be a woman in the soccer world?
Kathy Carter: I have always had to be more prepared and had to work harder — and, I have never just been given respect when I walked into a room.
I had to earn it.
I know what I am capable of doing. I have achieved a level of success that makes me a unicorn. I think we — as women — are making progress in soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about the question of equal pay for women?
Kathy Carter: Of course there needs to be equal pay, but this is about equal respect. Our women’s teams deserve unequivocal support. I want to put more wind behind their sails.
Our women’s program has been a shining star on a global level.
Diane Scavuzzo: Any final words?
Kathy Carter: As president, you understand how this puzzle works — you have to know how to look at the situation and find the win-win that is additive.
Electing someone like me with the experience and the business skills to dig in on the technical side of the game … I do not know all the answers but I understand intrinsically how to grow the game and how to drive even more revenue.
I am the most qualified person to be President.
When I started talking to people about soccer it was like speaking a foreign language. Now, the level of sophistication is exponential and the size of soccer fans is larger by leaps and bounds. Soccer can become the preeminent sport and I intend to make that happen.
Photo Credit: Kathy Carter, Teamkathycarter.com, MLS Soccer, Getty Images