Re-elected to a four-year term as U.S. Soccer Federation president, Cindy Parlow Cone will turn her attention to collective bargaining agreements and a report by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates on allegations of abusive behavior.
“U.S. Soccer is ready and more than willing to implement any changes that we need to make," Cone said after defeating predecessor Carlos Cordeiro on Saturday in what amounted to an endorsement of the governing body’s settlement of an equal-pay lawsuit by women players.
Yates was hired in October to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer.
“We’re not looking to just make a change just to make a change,” Cone said. “When there's problem, especially as horrible as the abuse that has been going on, it’s human nature to want to jump in and do something. And I felt that, as well, and I hear that from other people. But we want to make sure the changes that we are making are the right changes and really impactful changes. And really we want to do everything that we can to make sure and to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Cone, a former national team player, received 785.12 of the weighted votes, or 52.3%, on the first ballot during the USSF National Council meeting, held on-line and in Atlanta.
Cordeiro, a former Goldman Sachs partner and current adviser to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, got 698.26 votes, or 46.6%, as he tried to regain the job he held from 2018 until 2020. Cordeiro quit amid the fallout from legal filings that claimed women’s national team players had less physical ability and responsibility than male counterparts.
Cone was vice president at the time and moved up to president, then was elected last winter to a one-year term.
The USSF Athletes Council had one-third of the votes, and the Youth, Adult and Pro Councils receive 20% each, with the remaining delegates 6.7%. The athletes formerly received 20% but the USSF was forced to increase the representation after Congress enacted the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act in October 2020.
“I think there was the sense of disenfranchisement when you have the athletes moving to a third, which meant all the other councils went down by equal percentages," Cone said.
The details of each group's vote were not released.
Also during the meeting, a by-law amendment failed that would have given the president a $125,000 annual salary instead of its current status as an unpaid position. The proposal received 58.91% approval, short of the two-thirds needed.
Cone helped lead efforts that led to the USSF reaching a deal with women’s team players on Feb. 22 that will have players split $22 million to settle six years of litigation. The USSF also agreed to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women. The agreement is contingent on a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the contract that expires March 31.
“Equal pay has gone from a whisper in the locker room to a roar on the field to fundamentally changing the business of sports and soccer in the United States and around the world,” the women players said in a statement. “We look forward to Cindy’s leadership.”
The men's CBA expired in December 2018, and the sides neared a deal last June before the USSF backed away.
The U.S. will co-host the 2026 men's World Cup with Canada and Mexico, and sites are to be announced by this May. FIFA says it will assume a more direct role running the World Cup than it did in 1994, when a local organizing committee headed by USSF President Alan Rothenberg took charge.
“We're in the process of understanding what that's going to look like,” USSF CEO Will Wilson said. “When we have a clear sense of that, we'll understand who we need to hire.”
Cone and Wilson also are leading efforts to establish a national training center.
Under Cone, the USSF reached a new equipment agreement with Nike in November that starts in January 2023 and on Tuesday announced a $200 million, eight-year agreement with WarnerMedia that will shift USSF English-language broadcasts to HBO Max, TNT and TBS in 2023 from ESPN and Fox.
Cone will have to give more attention to some of the less visible portions of the federation.
“I need to do a better job of listening and communicating with our membership,” Cone said. “I came into a really challenging situation and had to right the ship, and now we’re sailing in a good direction right now, and so now it does allow me to shift my focus more the grass-roots efforts.”
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