2018 U.S. Soccer Presidential Election Candidate Steve Gans on the Importance of Great Leadership & Why He Should Be President
I understand what every constituency of U.S. Soccer wants and needs, because …. I have been in your shoes.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati had run unopposed three times and when Steve Gans entered the race last February and challenged him, it was a small ripple in the otherwise quiet waters. The question — back then — was if Gulati should be re-elected. Spurred by our loss to qualify for the World Cup, this first challenger had the race become crowded with seven other candidates Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda.
Why is Gans Running?
It is time for meaningful Change, Fairness, Inclusion and greater Competency.
Involved in soccer since the 1970’s, Gans is an attorney who lives in Boston and has two sons who played soccer in the Development Academy and who also benefited from playing high school soccer. “Soccer has run in my family for generations. My father came to America from Germany, and he instilled his passion for soccer in me at a very young age, and I have in turn passed that passion down to my sons,” states Gans on Steve Gans for President.
Here is our coverage of the race as Steve Gans takes his turn to Speak Out.
GoalNation met Gans in Philadelphia and then interviewed him on the phone. Gans was so approachable, honest and passionate — a consummate professional who has a deep understanding of the soccer landscape and is seriously focused on curing what ails our soccer universe. Steve Gans’ Plan
Gans is someone who has no obligating ties to FIFA and says he will be a true FIFA reformer.
Who is the right candidate to help soccer become the preeminent sport in America? What is the best path for future success? Who will replace Sunil Gulati as our next president? The vote is hours away and yet, there is still no clear forerunner to bet on.
Here is our interview with Steve Gans:
Diane Scavuzzo: Why are you running for president of U.S. Soccer?
Steve Gans: We want to solve what ails the sport in this country. Then soar to heights never seen before.
Right now, we don’t have a voice. It is autocratic.
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes you the right candidate to be the next president?
Steve Gans: Leadership and an understanding of the changes needed. We definitely need someone with a business background and who has chaired a board — U.S. Soccer is not just any 100 million organization. This is really Chairman of the Board of a large non-profit job.
Diane Scavuzzo: What gives you the edge?
Steve Gans: I am a lawyer who has advised large organizations with a great deal of problem-solving and negotiating skills. Being a lawyer means you really only advise — but in my case, I have also been a President and COO of a series of companies. In addition, I have led a company the size of U.S. Soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was the most challenging, when you ran a company the size of U.S. Soccer, one with 150 plus employees?
Steve Gans: Leading and inspiring — The whole human relations part. Being a true leader, where your employees respect you.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your goal as president?
Steve Gans: I have a 21 point platform — some people think it is too ambitious, but I don’t think it is.
Diane Scavuzzo: When you decided to challenge Sunil Gulati for the presidency of U.S. Soccer, you went on a “Listening Tour” — what did you discover?
Steve Gans: I met so many people in State Associations who are highly sophisticated, intelligent people who just need resources.
Diane Scavuzzo: What needs to change in youth soccer?
Steve Gans: There is a crisis in youth soccer — one crisis is the high attrition rate. We are going to tackle that immediately.
There is also much confusion in youth soccer. Did you know that we have two Youth State Cups in the state of Massachusetts? Not because youth soccer needs it, but because we have two fighting associations.
There is also a crisis at the club level. I went from youth soccer parent to youth club president —
I know the good and the bad and there are huge issues which need to be fixed.
One of the things we can do to address the play-to-pay issue. We can not eliminate play-to-pay but we need to make the game more affordable.
We can take some of the surpluses and use it for scholarships for kids who are deserving — kids who can’t afford it should not be shut out of the game.
There is a club in Boston charging $3,700!
We also have to stop DOCs from telling parents that their kids are going to get scholarships, and I would substantially overhaul the DA.
We are killing the kids’ joy for the game by a thousand cuts.
We need to become honest stewards of the game.
I want to establish good governance standards. One as in the trenches, I know what is happening.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can the U.S. Soccer Federation do more effectively to increase participation in the game of soccer?
Steve Gans: There is a lack of respect for the members. The edicts issued from Chicago — the common thing is that there were no discussions with people in the trenches. This has happened many times, for example with decisions on the ODP and DA.
U.S. Soccer needs to change the 75 percent attrition rate.
We need to change this.
At the recreational level, I recommend rolling back the birth year age change because we are going to lose players who want to play with their classmates.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about the question of equal pay for women?
Steve Gans: A no-brainer. Pay-parity is definitely what will happen under my administration. Did you know the women are employees and the men are not? I am from an equal pay state – I am committed to pay-parity but it is more than this — it is a commitment to women and girls throughout the game.
Little girls need to be able to dream about becoming a professional player or spending their lives as a coach or administrator.
There has to be a path for little girls in America to make a career in the game.
Women are not represented commensurate in the sport’s boardroom. There are many male DOCs and not nearly as many female DOCs
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do think the race is so fractured?
Steve Gans: Why is it so fractured? I have been in this from the beginning — in many ways, it all changed in one night when Sunil became vulnerable — If we had never lost, there would not have been the panic on the technical side.
I was in horror watching that night when we did not qualify. That challenged everything in a minute.
I am very proud there is going to be change. This is a huge organization and needs someone who has a soccer background — the next president is going to pick the next National Team coach. People just need to understand what this job requires. No one has a lock on the race, even now, but I do have the best campaign team.