In order to produce the very best talent, we need to reach every corner of the country to provide playing opportunities to those who cannot otherwise afford them. By expanding access for low-income and geographically remote players, US Soccer can expand its player pool at every level while reducing the impact of economic disparities on athletic outcomes.
Our goal should be to devise and enact a plan to join the rest of the soccer-playing world and gradually move away from the pay-to-play model. In the meantime, we should look to partner with our members and other organizations that already bring soccer to low-income areas.
The governing body of soccer should accurately represent the people who play soccer in our country. To achieve that, US Soccer should increase the number of women, BIPOC, and Spanish-speakers in positions of influence at all levels of the Federation, including among Soccer House leadership, National Team coaches, and Athlete Council members. We should also incentivize our member organizations – youth, adult, and professional – to set and meet their own diversity targets.
More diverse leadership across the soccer landscape will put us in a stronger position to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States and provide more role models for the next generation of diverse soccer players in our country.
US Soccer should be an indisputable global leader in making our sport as inclusive as possible. We’re excited by the recent creation of a Women’s Beach National Team, and we urge US Soccer to create formal women’s counterparts to the Para and Futsal National Teams.
We would also like to formalize the Federation’s support for other disability teams such as the Blind, Deaf, Amputee, and Power teams, and we encourage the Federation to consider adding them to our official Extended National Teams program so they have access to the same equipment and resources as other ENT teams.
Finally, we must ensure that the existence of our Para team and all other disability teams is well publicized, so that we can reach more eligible players to make them aware of the opportunity to join.
In order to live up to the ethos of “One Nation One Team,” we must provide opportunities to foster closer connections among Athletes, both as players and as people. That begins by educating all National Team players about the Athlete Council – its role, its members, and opportunities to get involved. The Athlete Council can also do a better job of consistently informing Athletes about new developments at US Soccer.
At the Federation level, we could do more to bring Athletes together. We believe joint camps across age groups could simultaneously reinforce consistency in technical concepts, raise the level of younger players, and push older players to be role models. We also propose something akin to an annual convention, perhaps as part of US Soccer’s Annual General Meeting, where Athletes are invited to collaborate with the Federation on shared priorities and ongoing tactical education.
National Team players proudly put their minds and bodies on the line to represent our country – it’s only right that the Federation looks after us in return. The mental aspect of the game is crucial to elite performance, and if US Soccer offered access to sport psychologists at camps and other mental health resources outside of camp, we would certainly see better results on the field and happier Athletes off it. The Federation should also be invested in the personal growth of its Athletes, and we should find ways to support the educational development of National Team players who choose to forgo or leave college to pursue soccer professionally.
Finally, adequate support also includes fair compensation and equal working conditions for comparable National Teams without any gender-based discrepancies.
From Muhammad Ali to Billie Jean King and Colin Kaepernick, athletes have long been at the forefront of the struggles for civil rights and social justice. We ask that the Federation, as a national organization with a large following, recognize that it also has a role to play in bringing about a more just and equitable society by standing with us when we use our platforms to fight for justice on and off the field.
US Soccer can become a leader among its peers by not only taking clear stances against all forms of discrimination and injustice, but also ensuring its newly-constituted Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Council collaborates closely with our current and future Athletes, who are more diverse across virtually every axis than the generations of players and administrators that came before us. As partners, we can work to educate our fans on social justice issues, adopt DEI as core values in every function of the Federation, and truly promote the development of soccer in the United States “for all persons of all ages and abilities.”