Kathy Carter, the current president of Soccer United Marketing, announced Tuesday morning that she will run for U.S. Soccer president.
Carter becomes the eighth person to declare their candidacy, and the first woman to do so. And she enters the race as the ultimate establishment candidate.
Carter has led SUM, Major League Soccer’s marketing arm and a close partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation, since 2010. She joined the organization in 2003, and served as its executive vice president before ascending to the presidency. She was MLS’ VP of corporate marketing from its inception until 1999, and before that had worked on the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. She played soccer at the College of William & Mary.
She is, almost unquestionably, one of the two most qualified candidates in the field. The question is whether her ties to MLS and SUM are a good thing. Many have grown wary of the conflicts of interest that exist within between those two entities and the USSF.
Carter joins the race less than 24 hours after Sunil Gulati, the 12-year incumbent, announced he would not run for re-election. Gulati said that, at the time, he was not supporting any of the other candidates. But ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reported Sunday, citing a source, that “Carter is running at the urging of Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber.” Carlisle also cited a source who “characterized [Carter’s] candidacy as a ‘Hail Mary’ on the part of Gulati and Garber to have a preferred candidate in the field.”
Those reports came one day after Sports Illustrate’s Grant Wahl tweeted that Gulati might throw his support behind Carter if he chose not to run.
Carter has taken a leave of absence from her position as SUM president to focus on the campaign. In an open letter to the U.S. Soccer community, Carter laid out portions of her platform:
“I will insist that athletes are at the table alongside best-in-class technical professionals to oversee player development and the management of our National Teams,” she wrote. “We have been incredibly successful in building the business side of the Federation, but we must provide the same resources (and more) to develop the game. I will work with all of the professional leagues to amplify such investment.”
She also touched on delegating decision-making responsibilities. “I will empower [USSF CEO] Dan Flynn and the staff of the Federation to do the job they have been hired to do,” she wrote. “I will not be the CEO. My focus will be as the Chairperson of the Board, and I will work with the elected and independent Board members to govern the sport collectively and transparently.”
The seven other candidates who have already declared their intentions to run for the USSF presidency are Boston attorney Steve Gans; United Premier Soccer League northeast conference manager Paul Lapointe; former U.S. national team players Eric Wynalda, Paul Caligiuri and Kyle Martino; New York attorney Michael Winograd; and current U.S. Soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro.
Candidates will need three nominations by the Dec. 12 deadline to be eligible for the election. The election will take place on Feb. 10 at U.S. Soccer’s annual general meeting in Orlando.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.