Soccer’s Top Business Woman Seeks New Challenges
Kathy Carter was one of the leading candidates for the USSF presidency and she took a leave of absence from Soccer United Marketing (SUM) for the campaign. Now, post-election, as most of the candidates return to the lives they left, Carter wants to seek new hills to climb.
The race to replace U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati earlier this year ended with Carlos Cordeiro‘s victory and left many Americans in our soccer world pondering our shared quest for a better future. Every U.S. Soccer Presidential Election Candidate — Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda all put out their own valiant effort to improve the quality and growth of the beautiful game in the USA.
Now that the post-presidential election stress is over, life has returned to the status quo — or has it? While most candidates have returned to the lives they left, not everyone is happy to go back to the existing state of affairs. For instance, Kathy Carter.
When Carter took her leave of absence to run for office, everyone expected her to return to her job as president of Soccer United Marketing (SUM), if and when she lost — after all, she was the highly successful business person responsible for closing contracts worth billions of dollars.
Instead, the world Carter built at the executive offices on Fifth Avenue in NYC seemed somehow different after her political experience.
How did Carter’s run to become president of our expansive world of soccer, in all of its technicolor and multi-layered depth, change her views?
Carter may just be the most powerful woman in soccer — and now she is looking for new challenges.
Related Soccer News: BECOMING A GREAT SOCCER NATION: KATHY CARTER SPEAKS OUT
Here is GoalNation’s Diane Scavuzzo’s interview with Kathy Carter as she begins to decide the next chapter of her life.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why have you decided to leave working as president of Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of Major League Soccer and the exclusive marketing partner of the United States Soccer Federation?
Kathy Carter: Well it is just the end of an era.
After the presidential election — the experience was nothing short of extraordinary — but coming back, I just thought it’s time for me to slay my next dragon, so to speak.
I’ve accomplished so much with MLS and SUM and I’m excited about all the opportunities that are in the marketplace, and it just felt like it was a good transition time for me to do something that could be incredibly innovative or new.
I have really spent a considerable amount of time building the league and building SUM, and I feel very positive with where it is today.
The Commissioner Don Garber and Gary Stevenson, my boss, were both very supportive. They wanted me to come back, but it just was the right transition time.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think that this desire to seek new challenges is partially motivated by your experiences running for president?
Kathy Carter: As you go through any new experience, you realize how much there is out in the world — and, so for a long time, I’ve had my head down, really focused on finding first stability for our sport and then growth. I hadn’t had my head up as much as I would like to. And that’s not a negative, it’s just the reality for any of us, as we get into our day-to-day lives.
Of course the election gave me a completely different lens through which to look at everything.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your thoughts on soccer in the USA, post-election?
Kathy Carter: I do believe that the women’s game is a little further behind from where we would like to see it, and that’s no fault of the athletes — I just think that there hasn’t been as much focus put on that side of the game.
I’m a bit of a builder, so I’ve spent 20 plus years building MLS and having an impact on the state of soccer through what I’ve done with the Federation and it just felt like it was time for me to apply my energies to that next great challenge, and that’s what I’m excited about.
Diane Scavuzzo: What’s the next challenge?
Kathy Carter: I’m weighing a number of interesting things that are out there, but I haven’t finalized anything and I’m actually excited about making the decision. By the same token, I’m totally comfortable taking a little bit of time, as I weigh all the different options.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would you like to accomplish in women’s soccer? How do you think you could make a difference in the women’s game?
Kathy Carter: It depends on what I end up doing. I think that was more of a broad statement that, we as an industry, still have a lot to do.
Diane Scavuzzo: But you could change women’s soccer dramatically.
Kathy Carter: I really appreciate that, and I think there’s more opportunity there. But whether or not that’s what I do, whether or not I stay in the game is still … Those are the myriad of things that I am weighing.
But regardless of what I do professionally, the game is in my blood, and I think I’ve proved that through my history, and certainly the campaign.
I love our country and I love the Federation, and I love what we’ve done, all we can do there.
Diane Scavuzzo: How disappointed were you when you lost?
Kathy Carter: You know, honestly, I’m a competitor, and like any competitor I went into the game to win, and so while I was extraordinarily disappointed — and have gone through phases where I looked at all the things that I could have, should have, would have done to help our game progress in the future — it is what it is.
I had hoped that I had enough support going in and that I’d done all of what was needed to convince and win, but the hills to climb were just slightly out of my reach.
Carlos is going do a great job, and our game will continue to excel.
Diane Scavuzzo: What did you think of your campaign?
Kathy Carter: I’m really proud of the way that we ran the campaign, the focus on the positive aspects of our game. It’s easy to identify problems, it’s a whole lot harder to solve them.
It wasn’t just me, I was the tip of the spear. I was actually most proud of the people who came aboard to help as we started to build the campaign.
People are going to love you or they’re going to hate you, which, I’m okay with those emotions because I remember the day when we actually dealt with indifference, which is the worst state of emotion.
If people don’t care, you can’t sway them.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are you going to miss most about working at SUM?
Kathy Carter: The people. The folks that I have worked with for so many years are ready to do great things in their own right, so there’ll be new leaders who are ready to step up, and that’s part of the excitement of change and evolution.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the biggest challenges you see ahead for SUM?
Kathy Carter: Ultimately, I think that there’s still a tremendous amount of growth ahead for the Federation and for Major League Soccer.
The future is incredibly bright.