Gans calls USSF election process unfair — any truth to it?

Go ahead, close all your browser windows, adjust your autoplay settings or whatever you need to do to keep SI’s atrociously designed site from crashing your computer, because this story is worth it: Candidate Steve Gans calls on U.S. Soccer to bring in independent management for the rest of the election.

Let’s recap: The deadline for securing three nominations for the presidency is just a few hours away. Gans himself, Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino say they’ve cleared the three-nomination bar. Carlos Cordeiro, not a big name among fans but the runaway winner of a three-way race for VP just two years ago, shouldn’t have too much trouble getting his three. Kathy Carter surely has hers, given this:

And Paul Caligiuri, the quietest candidate in this race, issued this cryptic tweet today:

So … he has all three?

No word from Mike Winograd. UPDATE: It appears Winograd got his nominations.

Plenty of words from Paul Lapointe, most of them bitter and suggestive of someone who’s not going to make it. The status of Hope Solo’s late entry is up in the air — I can confirm Julie Foudy’s report from a couple of days ago that she did not have all three, but she’s not giving up until the clock sounds midnight Central time.

In other words, we’re going to have a lot of candidates.

Now, let’s go over the letter from Gans representative Robert Bertsche and the response from U.S. Soccer general counsel Lydia Wahlke …

On the face of it, the Bertsche letter is a little flimsy. Wahlke takes note:


So this is apparently not the first such communication.

The meat of the Gans allegations is in the third paragraph:


Allegation 1: Delaying the release of the delegate lists. Let’s check back to the election procedures to see what this means:


“NCM” is National Council Meeting, where everyone gathers in Orlando and conducts business including but not limited to electing the next president.

Here’s the Wahlke response:


And yes, the list of delegates is going to keep changing. We know each state association will be there, but life happens — maybe Delegate X has a family thing come up and Delegate Y goes instead.

As far as the timeline goes, bear in mind that Gans has been in this race for months. He had already been in the race for months when I interviewed him for the podcast two months ago. The letter doesn’t state when Gans started asking.

In any case, not a big deal in the long run. The next part, though, puts USSF on shakier ground. Here’s Wahlke …


In fairness to Wahlke, the Gans letter doesn’t specify what has been changed. The SI story mentions three things:

  1. The first change was on Sept. 1, requiring candidates to obtain three official letters of support. That was the initial election procedure, which has never been in place before because we’ve never had an election like this before. The bylaws changed last year, and it seemed uncontroversial at the time.
  2. The decision on Nov. 8 to let nominators withdraw their nominations by Nov. 27 so they could nominate someone else.
  3. Last week’s Sunil-nominator-palooza, when USSF abruptly said all 24 (24??!!!) organizations that had nominated him were free to nominate someone else.

No. 3 really contradicts No. 2. Perhaps USSF should’ve just told nominators they should’ve withdrawn their Gulati nominations before the Nov. 27 deadline, when Gulati was still playing Hamlet staring at a skull and trying to decide what to do before Laertes comes storming back.

So we can consider that a legitimate complaint. Moot point now, but it does establish that the Nominating and Governance Committee has been playing a bit of Calvinball. But they’re not in charge of the vote itself. As far as I know, their role is hereby done.

One more complaint from the Gans team:


Wahlke’s response:


Seems reasonable. If Illinois’ adult association wants to praise Eric Wynalda to the high heavens on Twitter, how is that U.S. Soccer’s fault?

That said, at least Wahlke is on the record saying the nomination letters won’t be shared publicly. So if anyone needed assurance that we’re not going to see a press release from USSF saying Kathy Carter has 90 nominations or whatever, we’ve got it. (Now, a press release from SUM, on the other hand, would still be legal. And would probably go over like a lead zeppelin, to paraphrase Keith Moon or possibly John Entwistle giving Jimmy Page the idea for a band name. Then again, Carter’s not getting 90 nominations. Maybe not even nine, despite Gulati hanging on to 24 of them like he’s trying to get on Hoarders.)

And for the record, organizations are by no means obligated to vote for the candidate they nominated.

Two other things that have come out of the exchange:

  • Wahlke mentions “108 Organization Members.” By my count, it’s 110 — 41 state youth associations, 40 state adult associations, 14 joint state associations, 4 pro leagues and 11 national affiliates. I’m not completely sure of the count on state associations because some state associations don’t have websites, as if it’s 1992 or something, and I just found out this evening that Maine has only a youth association, not adult (and not joint). The national affiliates are tricky. A page on the USSF site lists nine, but that doesn’t include a couple of national youth soccer organizations have nominated someone at one point in this process. I’ve asked for clarification, and I’ve been directed to the site. Make of that what you will. Moot point now, but next time, could USSF just print a dadgum list?
  • The SI piece names one of the nominators — Angela Hucles. I’ve had the last few lists of nominators and have decided not to name any of them beyond the identifiers in my previous posts. I’m still wrestling with it from an ethical and practical level. This information probably should be made public, but should I be revealing nominations that a bunch of state associations — many of them small operations run by people who aren’t used to dealing with the media — made with a semi-reasonable expectation of privacy? (Or am I just cowed by the guy who responded to my off-the-record queries about the election with “I DON’T SEE HOW IT ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS”?)

But here’s the kicker, and I apologize for burying the lead …

Gans’ letter is asking for independent oversight. Wahlke responds …


That’s certainly not the last word here. We’ll need to know who’s been hired. Maybe some enterprising people will even vet that outside firm.

The Credentials Committee’s membership is listed online. Before the election, I’ll check to see if it’s changed at all.

For now, though, Gans seems pleased.

I can’t remember from past general meetings whether this is new. In any case, perhaps we’ll see a few new bylaws clarifying such practices from now on.







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