ORLANDO — In the wake of Carlos Cordeiro’s election as U.S. Soccer Federation president, Hope Solo has said she is “very disappointed” in the Athlete Council that helped propel him to victory, adding that the group failed many of its constituents in America.
Cordeiro survived an election with seven other candidates and three ballots to finally accumulate 68.6 percent of the vote in the final round.
The Athlete Council, which comprised 20 percent of the overall vote, was instrumental in getting Cordeiro elected, lining up as a bloc to give him a critical boost of early momentum that allowed him to be the top vote-getter in each round.
Solo, a candidate who was advocating change and who cast Cordeiro as an establishment figure, made her dissatisfaction with the Athlete Council’s decision clear.
But she said after the election: “I’m not surprised because [the Athlete Council], under a lot of pressure, and I’ve seen athletes time and time and time again crack under pressure, crack under fear, start to behave in a way that is very much a group thinking mindset.
“And right now in this day and age, we need individuals, we need leaders that know how to unite people, but we still have to remember to think for ourselves as individuals.
“And with the bloc vote from the Athlete Council, it was very disheartening because they represent different people, different cultures, different strengths, different weaknesses. And they don’t all have to think alike.”
Solo also implied that outside pressures in the form of monetary considerations unduly influenced the group’s thinking.
“The Athlete Council, they were under extreme pressure from the Federation, and change is very difficult for people,” she said.
“They are the beneficiaries of many opportunities that Soccer United Marketing as well as the Federation gives them with appearances, and many of them make money doing these appearances.
“So of course it’s very difficult. You have someone like Carlos Bocanegra who probably will be on the World Cup organizing committee. They don’t want change. But they have to realize that they represent all athletes of America, ages 6 all the way up to 60 and above. They represent everybody, and what they did is they failed many of us.”
The implication that not everything was above board drew a fierce defense from Athlete Council member Stuart Holden.
“I take a massive offense that someone would question our integrity,” Holden said. “In fact, in speaking to all the members in the different groups around the room, everybody came up to me and said they were proud of the Athlete Council and how they conducted this from the beginning, from our questionnaires, from our transparency, to conversations that we had with candidates, to members.
“That’s one thing I’m incredibly proud of, the way and the process that we have gone about this from conference calls. We just sat in the room right now and said ‘if we can maintain this level of engagement going forward the sport is going to be in a better place.’ I’ve been on the Athlete Council for seven years, and I think you heard that around the room tonight.”
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.