By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Carlos Cordeiro will succeed Sunil Gulati as president of U.S. Soccer after being elected following three rounds of voting on Saturday at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Cordeiro, a business executive with more than 30 years of experience in international finance, has been Gulati’s vice president since 2016.
Gulati, who had been involved in U.S. Soccer for about three decades, decided last December against running for re-election. He has faced heavy criticism since the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Cordeiro won a majority vote in the first contested U.S. Soccer presidential election since 1998, prevailing in a field that featured Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda.
“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,” he said. “I promise I will work for all of you to bring us together as one soccer community.”
Cordeiro clinched election on the third ballot, where he easily eclipsed the 50 percent threshold, winning 69 percent of the vote.
He had received 36 percent and 42 percent respectively on the first two ballots, where he was involved in a tight battle with Kathy Carter, the on-leave president of Major League Soccer’s marketing arm.
Caligiuri withdrew after taking just 0.5 percent of the vote on the first ballot while Michael Winograd and Steven Gans followed suit after the second.
Former U.S. Olympic and World Cup goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was suspended from the women’s team for “unprofessional” comments made at the 2016 Rio Games, received less than 1.6 percent of the vote in each round.
Cordeiro, born in 1956 to a Colombian mother and a Portuguese father, has served various roles with U.S. Soccer since being appointed as the federation’s first independent director in 2007.
He has been treasurer, chaired the budget committee, and been director of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. In addition, he represents U.S. Soccer on the CONCACAF Council and FIFA’s Stakeholders Committee.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond, Neville Dalton)