From AO: The US National Teams are important to us and we are going to make a positive difference.
We aim to inform and engage our AO membership of USSF’s election process and give the candidates a platform to articulate to our members. We believe this is a two step process.
The first step is to focus on change in leadership and leading the conversation of candidates to replace Sunil Gulati since he will no longer seek re-election. We will do this by sharing our concerns and issues with potential candidates, USSF, and the public. Then, we will give all change candidates a platform to listen to AO members, and to provide their plans and ideas.
Second, we will work to shine a light on the USSF process, as well as give a platform for change, with this member engagement. We want to focus on this to elicit change before we take further action. We have extend invites to all candidates to address our membership via questionnaires, live video chats, and provide feedback via comments and straw polls.
You can see all of this in our AO Election Center.
The result below is Paul Caligiuri’s own words in response to questions from AO. These questions were culled from issues based on a survey we sent to our members in late 2017.
NOTE: Mr. Pauligiuri could not find a time to appear before our LIVE candidate forum series before our candidate window closed. He send his apologies to AO members.
Name: Paul Caligiuri
Question: Soccer Experience (player, coach, executive, etc.).
I have always said that our experiences are what make each of us unique.
As President of U.S. Soccer, my philosophy starts with recognizing that the player is the product. We need a leader that understands player identification and development at all level and I think my background and experiences are unique in this regard because I have played and coach soccer at a high level and am the only candidate that has served in several key governance roles of U.S. Soccer.
I played in the MLS and German Bundesliga and for the U.S. Men’s National Team, where I was capped 110 times. I served on the U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors (two years) and Athletes’ Council. I coached at the university level, the club level and in the NPSL and UPSL. I’m founder of the U.S. Soccer Players Association.
Question: What leadership experience and leadership style makes you qualified to be USSF President?
I believe my current role has not only provided me with sport-specific management and operations experience and tools required for the USSF role but it has also given me real-world insights into the on-the-ground experiences of local and regional club managers, associations, parents and players. I witness, firsthand, how USSF policies and procedures impact the people we should care about the most: the players.
I’ve led teams and organizations and I’ve managed operations at all stages of amateur and semi-professional soccer. Two of the four most recent Presidents of FIFA were former athletes. Being a former athlete is not a shortcoming, it’s a remarkable asset. Everything I have accomplished in my life has prepared me to lead U.S Soccer as its President.
Question: What changes will you make to youth development in this country? Can you provide a timeline of the changes that you envision?
The U.S. Development Academy has failed. It has increased, not lessened, the cost to play soccer in the U.S. We must build a broader and stronger system of development – one that allows us to maximize opportunities for elite players. The Olympic Development Program is our greatest resource but has been completely ignored by U.S. Soccer for 10 years. Let’s pump resources into the Olympic Development Program. That would raise the competitive level, keep competition more localized while creating a gateway to enter into untapped multicultural communities. This broadens the player base, eliminates direct competition with U.S. Youth Soccer or U.S. Club Soccer for player registrations. It decreases travel costs, which keeps so many qualified, talented players out of our system. My plan will provide more access to unregistered high school-aged players and provides a platform that breaks down barriers to develop and prepare our top players for International competition.
Question: In what ways will coaching in the United States change under your leadership?
Two things are really important. First, you have to be willing to learn from others. Germany return to prominence in the World Cup is will documented. They reinvested in coaches, training methods and placed a high priority on how they integrated their youth programs. Every coach at every level of development was effectively converted into a talent scout for their national program. This approach is consistent with my platform to raise coaching standards and re-establish a broader development program that brings more talent into U.S. Soccer
Second, if we really want the game to reflect the diversity and depth of the talent pool here in the U.S., I believe my role and the role of all coaches is to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and inclusiveness in every aspect of the role – from the team of professionals we hire to the contractors we work with to the recruitment of next-generation leaders of the organization.
Question: The current pricing structure for many U.S. Soccer games makes it difficult for the emerging fan, the diehard fan, and families to access National Team games regularly. What will you do to address affordability and access to games?
This is important. Making soccer the most prominent sport in American is a game of addition, not subtraction. To put the U.S. back on the right track, we have to focus on the inputs to success. At the end of the day, it’s really about fielding a U.S. team, men’s and women’s, which will be competitive on the world stage. If U.S. Soccer is in a position to showcase the kind of talent which currently exists on pitches around the U.S. – amateur, semi-professional and professional – I have no doubt that soccer will become the preeminent sport in the Nation. That will drive interest and visibility. Other sports are popular because they’ve got championships to point to. If we’re winning with great talent, we will retain and attract our Nation’s best athletes.
Many of the other candidates have focused more on revenues, branding, marketing, and TV revenues. I understand their importance, but those are outputs (or secondary) to how we perform on the field. You can’t fix U.S. Soccer if you can’t identify the problem. I understand that the product is the player and how to put us back on a winning path. I am the best candidate to elevate our standing in soccer
Question: Describe what you will prioritize when choosing cities/venues to host matches for our national teams.
Look, we all aspire for U.S. Soccer to improve at every level. At the same time, we need to not only be inclusive in how we attract, develop and improve the affordability of the game for your youth, but we also need to expand the venues where our men’s and women’s national team play. Inclusiveness is a core value in our country; it needs to become a core value in U.S. Soccer and that means expanded our fan base.
Question: How do you envision the ideal game day experience for fans attending a U.S. Soccer game?
There is no magic wand here. You need to put a competitive team on the field with an attacking style of play and the fans will turn out. Other sports like MLB and the NBA have done a great job leveraging technology and promotional activities that improve the “in-game” experience and I can envision similar opportunities with soccer.
Question: How will your presidency incorporate the views of fans and include them in the governance of U.S. Soccer?
I love this question. Look, we have to make U.S. Soccer more inclusive. The passion is there in our fan base. I plan to conduct “bottom’s up” review of U.S. Soccer in my first six months as President. It will involve input from all stakeholders and I will provide a strategic plan to review and approve of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. I will work to involve the public in the process every step of the way. We benefit from diversity of ideas and inclusiveness and our strategy will reflect that.
Question: Why should fans unite behind your candidacy for U.S. Soccer president?
I have gone all across the country meeting with fans and players from adult, professional and youth leagues. There is a fair amount of outrage about where we are at today. It just simply isn’t good enough.
That’s why the last thing voters should do on February 10 is vote from the candidates that are part of the establishment today. Instead, voters will rally behind my candidacy because I have a plan to establish a robust and broader development program. It is also a plan that is based on inclusivity and equal pay for our female athletes. Moreover, we aren’t rebuilding. We will realign the resources of U.S. Soccer to win now and I am uniquely qualified to lead an American renaissance in soccer.
But it all begins with recognizing that the product is the player. While other candidates are focused on branding and marketing, I understand that our most important investments have to be in our players at all levels. By improving our quality of play and by raising our coaching standards, we will drive interest, drive support, drive ratings, drive sponsorships and move U.S. Soccer into the preeminent role we’re tasked with achieving, according to our mission.
So far seven of the eight candidates for USSF President have provided their answers to our members’ issues questionnaire and six have appeared before our LIVE member forums. Mr. Codeiro will not be appearing before our LIVE forum and Mr. Paul Caligiuri has not provided a questionnaire or forum date. At this point our candidate windows are now closed and we will shortly be polling our members.
NOTE: The American Outlaws will NOT be making a organizational endorsement, but we will make available the results of our member straw poll and select quotes from our members on why they voted the way they did.
FULL list of LIVE AO Member Forum Recordings and Questionnaires:
- MONDAY, JANUARY 8TH: MICHAEL WINOGRAD
- TUESDAY, JANUARY 9TH: KYLE MARTINO
- MONDAY, JANUARY 15TH: KATHY CARTER
- TUESDAY, JANUARY 16TH: HOPE SOLO
- MONDAY, JANUARY 22ND: STEVE GANS
- TUESDAY, JANUARY 23RD: ERIC WYNALDA
- CARLOS CORDEIRO
- PAUL CALIGIURI
- Fan Issues Questionnaire (see above)