Here’s What Happening With the U.S. Soccer Federation Presidential Election

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Women’s soccer needs support from the U.S. Soccer Federation leadership.

President Sunil Gulati announced in December that he won’t be running for a fourth term as President, stepping down a year after the U.S. men’s team didn’t make it to the 2018 World Cup. As eight new hopeful candidates prepare for the election on Saturday, here’s a brief breakdown of the process, some of the candidates, and the issues in play.

The candidates had to pass a background check and submit three letters of nomination. Then, the national council will vote by secret ballot and the majority wins. Simple.

So who are the contenders? Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd, and Eric Wynalda.

For Solo, however, the election has turned into a bit of a nasty Twitter spat. It began when The Soccer Heretic reported that executive Casey Wasserman was putting pressure on clients not to vote for Carter or else they won’t receive sponsorships. Women’s players Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy supposedly applied more pressure, too. In response, Foudy tweeted that the Heretic should “stop spreading rumors,” because she hasn’t endorsed anyone.

Enter Solo, who responded to Foudy saying, “So did you not organize a call last week with select, but not all, former players as well as current players and athlete council members advocating for the status-quo Kathy Carter?”

Solo’s tweet implies that Foudy has in fact sided with Carter in the election.

Foudy’s loyalties aside, both Carter and Solo are speaking up about supporting women’s soccer.

Also during this election season, Solo has filed an official complaint with the USSF, stating that “because of the power, prestige, status and money flowing from the Federation’s alliance with Major League Soccer, a professional men’s league (the “MLS”), and its affiliate, Soccer United Marketing, LLC (“SUM”), the USSF’s paramount concern has become protecting and nurturing the MLS, even if at the expense of other stakeholders, including those involved in professional women’s and amateur soccer.”

The complaint alleges there’s an “institutional bias” towards men’s soccer “at the expense of” women’s soccer. On Jan. 26, Solo appeared on CBS This Morning to advocate for pay equality between the sexes.

Carter, whose experience includes President of Soccer United Marketing, also advocates for better pay for female players and more athlete representation. On Tuesday, Carter wrote a piece for CNN titled, “Answering the Question: Am I Woman Enough?” She wrote about constantly being questioned about her talent and her body, and discussed her journey as a soccer player. There weren’t any pro leagues for her to join, so she played in amateur adult leagues.

“I know the doubts I’ve faced throughout my career are faced by many women — most women,” she wrote. “I’ve worked harder to be more prepared, to see every angle, to avoid every error possible. I’ve learned through successes and yes, sometimes through failures, the importance of listening, working constructively, setting ambitious goals, and helping everyone succeed together.

Carter said there were only a few female leaders out of FIFA’s 211 member associates, and that needs to change.

Yet Solo has previously tweeted that, “It’s clear that @soccerkcarter is transparent about only two issues — her lack of understanding of what equality in the game means, and the importance of money over football.”

Other candidates include Cordeiro, an insider as USSF Vice President, and Martino, who played for the University of Virginia and worked as an NBC Sports soccer analyst.

All 11 USSF presidents in the past were men, so we may finally see the first female president of U.S. Soccer this year. But no matter who wins, it’s time to prioritize equal treatment of all soccer players regardless of sex.

The election for the new president will take place on February 10 in Orlando, Florida.

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