On Feb. 10, much to the dismay of many U.S. soccer supporters, Carlos Cordeiro was elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the official governing body of soccer in the United States.

Yet the negativity around the appointment not only is unwarranted, but it also has been handed down before Cordeiro has even begun his role as president.

Cordeiro, a 61-year-old businessman of Indian and Portuguese descent, has quite the impressive resume. After a 12-year career at Goldman Sachs, Cordeiro has worked for the USSF for over a decade, most recently serving as vice president since 2016.

However, despite his impressive resume, Cordeiro’s election leaves a lot to be desired. After the U.S. men’s team’s disastrous failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, it was imperative that the USSF take a step in the right direction. Many people viewed an outsider as the best chance to right the sinking ship of U.S. Soccer that the previous president, Sunil Gulati who decided not to run for re-election after the men’s team failed to qualify, left behind.

It was not an outsider who ended up winning the election, but rather Gulati’s vice president and right-hand man, Cordeiro. Though Cordeiro announced his candidacy before Gulati announced he would not seek re-election, Cordeiro was part of the establishment that so many viewed as the root of the problem, after a rough 2017 that included a contract dispute with the women’s team and the firing of the men’s head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.

Gulati’s background in business, rather than soccer, was a particular issue that plagued his tenure toward the end of his presidency. In that respect, Cordeiro’s background is quite similar to Gulati’s. Nevertheless, despite the qualms about Cordeiro’s election, he does have the opportunity to enact the change the USSF so fervently requires.

During his candidacy, Cordeiro ran on an “Aim Higher” platform that, according to his website, included three main goals: to “grow the game at all levels,” to “develop world-class national teams” and to “ensure open, inclusive and transparent leadership.”

Growing the game at all levels is integral to the growth and success of U.S. soccer in general. Currently, the United States has a pay-to-play system whose high cost cripples the USSF’s ability to attract and retain talent. Across Europe and South America, if a kid has the talent, he will quickly be picked up by an academy and receive benefits for playing there.

In the United States, however, the only way to play organized youth soccer is to pay money to join a club. The cost to join these clubs creates a high barrier to entry for children coming from impoverished backgrounds who cannot afford to pay the club fees.

This high barrier to entry causes the USSF to miss out on significant potential talent who often decide to pursue other lucrative options, such as basketball and football, rather than soccer. However, to eliminate the pay-to-play system, Cordeiro will have to figure out a way to generate more revenue that the federation can funnel to the youth system in order to offset growing costs.

Likewise, the quality of coaching is relatively poor in the United States compared to other countries, as the USSF does not make coaching badges easily obtainable. In the United States, coaching courses cost upwards of $4,000. In Europe, most courses cost under $1,000. Having to spend over $4,000 to obtain a coaching license can limit the number of well-trained youth coaches in the United States.

Yet, Cordeiro’s background in business could prove to be an asset in solving both of these issues. The time he spent in the world of finance should assist him in figuring out how to effectively generate the capital needed to enact change in the federation. Although not universally popular, his plan to build the revenue of the USSF up to the level of its European counterparts — through increased fan engagement and commercial partnerships — is a key step to reinvigorating soccer in the United States.

Currently, the USSF’s operating budget pales in comparison to those of the big European superpowers of Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain. Money is the key to building the game from the ground up, and investments made in the youth program will begin to make noticeable differences in the senior squad in the future.

However, the biggest key to Cordeiro’s success as president, and the success of the USSF as a whole, is whether or not the fans give him the opportunity to succeed. Though he is similar in some ways to his predecessor, Cordeiro deserves that chance. During his campaign, he pointed out several noticeable flaws with the establishment of the USSF, and he proposed compelling plans to help mitigate them.

Unnecessary negativity will only hinder the growth Cordeiro could potentially achieve. He may not have been the anti-establishment candidate that many people envisioned, but he deserves to be judged solely on the successes and failures of his term as president rather than the expectations people have for him going in.

Drew Sewall is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. KICKING AND SCREAMING appears every other Friday.

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