U.S. Soccer employees slam organization for 'toxic' culture, 'terrible' leadership

While the United States women’s national team looks to win its second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, there is some apparent turbulence among the U.S. Soccer organization back on American soil.

A report from the New York Times on Tuesday documents a series of negative reviews posted online by “more than a dozen” current and former employees of U.S. Soccer who don’t paint the company as a positive workplace environment. An array of grievances are mentioned in the reviews, including describing the company’s culture as “toxic,” and that morale among employees is “at an all-time low.”

After being tipped off to the reviews, many of which have been posted on a public networking site in recent months, the Times spoke with an array of U.S. Soccer employees who confirmed that the sentiments expressed in the reviews reflect what’s going on behind the scenes as the federation inches toward a vote for a new chief executive.

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United States Soccer Federation Secretary General Dan Flynn is the subject of criticism from many U.S. Soccer employees. (AP)
United States Soccer Federation Secretary General Dan Flynn is the subject of criticism from many U.S. Soccer employees. (AP)

Dan Flynn, the CEO of U.S. Soccer since 2000, is set to retire this summer. He is the subject of much of the scorn. Jay Berhalter, the brother of men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter and one of U.S. Soccer’s highest-ranking executives, is also prominently mentioned.

From the Times:

In the reviews, and in interviews with The Times, past and present U.S. Soccer staff members described grievances common to almost any company: too much work, too little pay, bosses who don’t listen. But in their open disdain for Flynn and Berhalter, the employees also paint the portrait of an organization — one still emerging from a broad restructuring sparked by the humiliation of missing the 2018 World Cup — that is dominated by a small group of long-serving executives, and infected by dissatisfaction and mistrust.

“Dream job, nightmare organization,” read one post added a week ago. “Intervention needed” was the title of another. “Terrible leadership” said a third.

Some current employees told the Times that the impending leadership changes were the impetus for the reviews. Jay Berhalter, the COO, is reportedly Flynn’s choice to take the reins as CEO. Some believe his promotion is inevitable.

From the Times:

More than a dozen internal and external candidates have been considered, but with little information leaking to the public, the perception has grown that the process is being managed to arrive at an arranged result that puts Jay Berhalter in charge. That is precisely why some inside U.S. Soccer say they have tried to raise an alarm.

“We all know that if the next CEO comes from within,” one wrote, “the toxic culture will never change.”

While the women’s national team has established itself as one of the top — if not the top — programs in the world, the U.S. men’s team has lagged far behind. Most recent, the U.S. men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Meanwhile, the USWNT advanced to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over Spain in the Round of 16 on Monday. The U.S. will face France on Friday.

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