On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.
And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.
Today we feature: NBC broadcaster Kyle Martino
The most recent of the seven entrants (so far) to declare, Kyle Martino wrestled publicly with his decision to give up his “dream job” with NBC Sports to make a run at the volunteer position of President of U.S. Soccer.
Martino ultimately decided to take the leap but only after “a long conversation in the kitchen with my wife about jumping into the fray because I need her support and my families support to take on something so challenging.”
Perhaps to shore up that support Martino took a brief family vacation in Mexico, which he interrupted to speak to GotSoccer for over an hour before, “I hop on a plane to fly all over the country to hear what people are worried about, what people want from this soccer nation.”
Martino, who has taken a sabbatical from that dream job as a Premier League analyst for NBC Sports, has set up a GoFundMe page to finance that travel.
For Martino his page does more than raise cash, it gives voice to “the people who put on the jersey’s, who stand in the bars, who fly to Trinidad and Tobago and stand there and cheer.” “The people” Martino credits with,”funding U.S. Soccer.”
“The people,” Martino said, “that helped grow that $150 million surplus have next to no say in who runs U.S. Soccer, and that has to change.”
A quick glance at Martino’s GoFundMe page on Friday morning showed that the public has been receptive, with $18,000 raised toward a goal of $50,000. Martino told GotSoccer he wants to say to the U.S. Soccer public, “I serve you guys, so I need your help to fly around the country and meet with everyone.”
“From the billionaire owner who’s worried about his MLS franchise, all the way to the mom and dad in Los Angeles who can’t afford to get their kid a good soccer education.”
Martino told GotSoccer that he is in the process of fleshing out his Progress Plan, although he did discuss the framework, which features three main planks.
Transparency, Equality, and Progress. Beginning with progress, GotSoccer asked the candidate to give some details.
Progress means youth, a system Martino described as fractured. The candidate notes that “there are a lot of groups and individuals doing good things but without coordination, it’s hard to mobilize a standardized approach.”
Looking to the inner cities, long the Great White Whale of U.S. Soccer, Martino told GotSoccer, “we’re losing a huge demographic.” “An enormous portion of the soccer landscape is priced out of the game, or through lack of access, is not getting into the system.”
Citing the need for a massive investment, Martino notes that the much-discussed U.S. Soccer surplus can foot part of the bill, with sponsors, partners, etc, also chipping in.
Bringing small fields to the city courts like Martino has seen in his travels, inspired him to join with Steve Nash, Mia Hamm, and others to create an initiative called Over/Under, which will build small soccer fields on existing courts.
Futsal is another solution in crowded urban areas and Martino says that good work is being done but “without U.S. Soccer uniting everyone and supplementing what they are doing, subsidizing it and leading the way, it’s going to remain a disjointed project.”
Of transparency, Martino believes that paying the U.S. Soccer President would provide “accountability” and also, “make it (president of US Soccer) a fulltime job.”
Equality for the women’s game is essential to Martino’s platform from facilities, to equal pay.
“Our women,” Martino began, “are World Cup winners, world-class athletes, they’re soccer players, and the fact that they are treated as second-class citizens is abhorrent.”
Furthermore, Martino said that current and former national team players he has spoken to feel that “their success is being used to paper over cracks, when in reality they feel that they are regressing, they feel that other teams are gaining on them, other countries are spending time and resources in ways we aren’t to improve coaching at youth level all the way up to the national team level, and we keep pointing to Olympic Gold Medals and World Cup trophies as examples that everything is going fine, everything is good.”
“Our women, Martino emphasizes, “are the Brazil, the Argentina, the Germany, the Spain, (of women’s soccer) and they’re not being put in the position to continue dominance.”
Calling himself, “really bummed to miss out” on Saturday’s GotSoccer Forum, Martino was happy to have a chance to explain his views on Sunil Gulati, having been criticized for saying that he would be willing to work with the incumbent, should he take over the position.
Citing Gulati’s position on the FIFA council, “a seat at the big table,” something that Martino says is “massive,” and also pointing to Gulati’s role at the center of the U.S. bid for the 2016 World Cup with Mexico and Canada, Martino explains his position.
“I think it’s a bit naive to try and gain popularity and political points by disparaging Sunil Gulati,” Martino begins. After pointing to his own public criticisms of Gulati and noting that he had been one of the first call for Gulati to step down, Martino reprised his recent New York Times comment, saying “working in lockstep, as I said, would be about ensuring that we get the 2026 bid,” in addition to having a friendly voice inside FIFA.
Check out Kyle Martino’s platform at everyonesgameusa.com
Played at University of Virginia
Former MLS player.
NBC Sports Analyst- Premier League
Coached at Staples H.S. Connecticut
8 USMNT Caps