Miami Beach resident Carlos Cordeiro, who immigrated to the United States at age 15 with his widowed Colombian mother and three siblings, was elected president of U.S. Soccer on Saturday during the soccer federation’s Annual General Meeting in Orlando.
He is the first Hispanic ever elected to the role.
Cordeiro, 61, replaces Sunil Gulati, who had been at the helm of the federation for the past 12 years.
“Thank you to those of you who have supported me today,” Cordeiro said. “This is incredibly humbling. I want to thank all the candidates for a stirring campaign. I’d like to thank Sunil and our board for their tireless service. To those of you who didn’t vote for me, I’m going to work to earn your support and trust over the next four years. I promise I will work for all of you to bring us together as one soccer community. Thank you very much.”
Cordeiro will serve a four-year term. He won in the third round of a contentious election with an eight-candidate field that also included Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda. He got 68.6 percent of the votes in the third round, followed by Kathy Carter (10.6 percent), Kyle Martino (10.6), Eric Wynalda (8.9) and Hope Solo (1.4).
It was the first contested election since 1998. He takes over at a time when the organization faces major challenges in the wake of the U.S. men’s national team failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Cordeiro vowed to help bring the 2026 World Cup to the United States, Canada and Mexico; to lower the costs of youth soccer to make it more accessible to underrepresented kids; to significantly increase U.S. Soccer budget; and to make the governance of the federation more transparent and inclusive.
Cordeiro is a graduate of Miami Beach High, Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He spent 30 years as a business executive with experience in international finance. He became a partner at Goldman Sachs in the early 1990s and was later appointed Vice Chairman-Asia. He advised governments such as Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid South Africa, global corporations, and financial institutions including the World Bank.
He has served in various roles with U.S. soccer since 2007 and in 2016 was named vice president.
After the election, Solo said: “From day one, we knew it was going to be very difficult to overthrow the establishment. We knew they were going to be the top two candidates. We moved the needle forward. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re here to stay. We’re here to push the game forward and use our voices.”
Wynalda added: “We started a conversation. At times, this has looked like a fight. The fight stops now. And not until we stop fighting with each other and start fighting together are we going to be a soccer nation and are we going to be able to achieve and realize our potential.”
Here is the Herald’s full profile, with everything you need to know about Cordeiro.