Thank you all for coming here tonight to support Eric Wynalda’s candidacy. Thank you to the Illinois State Soccer Association and its President Claudio Frigo for inviting me to speak and for all your work growing the game in the United States, thank you to the next president of the United States Soccer Federation Eric Wynalda.
Make no mistake…..Nothing less than the future of soccer in America is at stake next month.
Eric is the right person to take the leadership of US Soccer at this critical time. His leadership and vision are needed to grow the sport for the masses instead of the few. Eric connects with the grass roots of the sport in this country and will represent them with his inclusive, common sense, fair, transparent and equitable actions.
We ARE at a crossroads. The delegates of the United States Soccer Federation have a choice. I am here to implore those who vote and those who INFLUENCE voters, to back the enlightened, representative leadership of ERIC WYNALDA!
The alternative is to choose to blindly continue down the path of ignorance that maintains the status quo of “just good enough”….and that’s a “just good enough” that includes a men’s national team that did not qualify for the World Cup (in one of the easiest paths to the Cup Final in the world)….a “just good enough path” whose men’s team did not qualify for the Olympics in Rio and did not qualify for the Olympics in London…..a “just good enough path” that raises barriers to entry with “pay to play” holding back some of the most talented players in the country. A “just good enough path” that has stubbornly chosen to hold onto the folly of America’s soccer exceptionalism.
I’m here today to tell you that what we have….IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!
The establishment “just good enough” folks are protecting a self-serving rigged model that restricts growth in the professional game and negatively impacts the amateur game as well. That is selfish and short-sighted when a better, proven model used successfully by virtually every other nation in the world is at our finger tips.
And that alternative model is a very important part of Eric’s platform that I am working tirelessly to build – promotion and relegation.
Eric’s support of an open system, promotion and relegation, training and solidarity payments for youth clubs and community ownership of professional clubs mirrors NISA’s vision.
The National Independent Soccer Association has developed an open system multi-tiered structure that will launch next year using promotion and relegation. This open system has no entry fees for clubs, no territorial rights, low league dues and promotion and relegation from amateur leagues to fourth division, third division and eventually – with support from new US Soccer leadership – all the way to a new first division.
This will connect every club and every level competitively and commercially. It will make every match meaningful. It will connect American soccer to world soccer and it will incentivize every owner, every coach, every player and every fan to be better, to invest more time, money and effort into becoming the best soccer nation we can be. Eric shares this vision, he supports this plan and he will help make it real starting February 10th when he is elected US Soccer President in Orlando.
I also want to take this opportunity to make a major announcement on behalf of NISA that I know Eric will support. Using newly approved congressional crowd funding equity legislation, NISA is going to help communities build new soccer clubs that will be started and owned in part by the fans themselves. And for existing clubs that want to join NISA and want to be part of the fabric of their communities, we will also work with them to add fan ownership. This isn’t for all clubs- some will want to control 100% of their ownership. However, for others, having fan owned clubs [ranging from 10% on up] will strengthen the connections to their communities. We have partnered with national crowd funding firm Cutting Edge Capital to develop community ownership initiatives in any American market. Anyone interested in starting a community ownership initiative for their club or to start a brand-new club using one can learn more about how to do this on the NISA website.
Eliminating entry fees and territorial restrictions, building fan ownership in clubs, and, implementing promotion and relegation ARE the KEYS to revolutionizing soccer in the US.
THIS MEANS THAT THERE MUST BE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE
Look, making change is NOT easy. But together, we can do this. All American soccer constituents must contact their leadership, their US Soccer delegate, and let them know that a vote for Eric is a vote for progress in American soccer. Current members of the US Soccer establishment must be enlisted to SEE the vision, EMBRACE the vision and vote to ENACT the vision that will allow the United States to put its tremendous resources behind a winnable structure with Eric’s unabashed leadership.
A vote for the opposition is a vote for continued mediocrity, a vote for closed door deals that only reward themselves and a vote for yet another political back pass.
A vote for Eric is a vote for progress, a vote for inclusiveness, a vote to play by the world’s rules, a vote for an attacking pass forward for soccer in the United States.
I ask all of you to support Eric Wynalda’s campaign for US Soccer President and lead our country to achieve its full potential as part of the global game!
Listen to the American soccer community. They are speaking loudly.
-We want clarity and transparency, NOT cloak and dagger closed-door shenanigans. -We want CONSENSUS of interests, not CONFLICT of interest.
-We want equal pay NOT gender-based pay. We want PERFORM to play, NOT PAY to play.
-We want community based CLUBS that STAY, not corporate franchises that go away.
-We want an OPEN system, NOT a CLOSED system.
-We want leadership for ALL, not protection for the few.
“Just good enough” is NOT good enough! We believe in building a better future for Soccer. Let the revolution commence!
Finally, I have a message to soccer players, administrators and referees throughout the country:
There is one candidate that rises above all the others– and will be able to unite all of US Soccer on a progressive path.
Please tell your state association delegates to follow Illinois Soccer’s lead to Vote for Eric. If you do, Eric will win, soccer in your state will win, soccer in the United States will win and WE ALL WILL WIN WITH WYNALDA!