Five Days Until The Choice That Is No Choice, and How We Can Do Better

Jimmy_Carter_working_at_his_desk

I have today signed S. 2727, the Amateur Sports Act of 1978.

The President’s Commission on Olympic Sports reported that the frequent disputes between some of our amateur sports organizations have hindered the grassroots development of amateur sports as well as the performance of United States athletes in international and Olympic competition. This legislation, based on the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports, establishes procedures and guidelines to resolve disputes without placing the Federal Government in control of amateur sports. The act designates the United States Olympic Committee as the coordinating body for amateur sports, restructures the Olympic Committee and many of its constituent organizations, and gives the Olympic Committee a mandate to resolve disputes through arbitration.

I hope that this legislation will strengthen United States participation in international amateur sports competition and broaden opportunities for all Americans to enjoy amateur sports.

– James Earl Carter, 39th President of the United States, November 8, 1978

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The above law is what makes US Soccer possible at all.  To the purpose of this article, where US Soccer derives its legitimacy is from you, the American people, and from ostensibly good law crafted by your representatives.  You are in charge, no matter how US Soccer organizes its bylaws to exclude your specific voice.

Amended in 1998, the Amateur Sports Act was coded into law at 36 U.S. Code, Subtitle II, under the autocratic-sounding designation of “Patriotic and National Organizations.”

At the time, many saw the Act as a tool to deliver powerful reforms for amateur athletics, giving, as Ken Denlinger wrote at the time, “…clear and useful reforms, and also the promise of helping the casual jogger as well as the Olympian marathoner…”  SPecifically, Denlinger lauded the outcome that would, in his opinion, deliver “…more than enough congressional checks…” on the abuse of power and the undemocratic deployment of American tax dollars – $16 million at the time of the signing of the Act – in the development and safeguarding of a proper sport ethic in America.

I mention above the 1998 amendment of the Sport Act because it only took two decades for us to abandon the notion that we should use our resources to uplift sport among everyday people and instead deployed what Jay Coakley calls “a deviant overconformity to the sport ethic” in simply handing over this framework to professional sport.

Just in time for the emergence, post 1994 World Cup, of US Soccer, a federation which saw its rise in the bastardized light of the Havelange-Blatter-Blazer-Warner era, one of nonfeasance when it came to amateur/everyday sport development, and criminal malfeasance when it came to professional takes on soccer and sport.

Tracking the revision of US Soccer bylaws – studying an answer to the questions “When did US Soccer change its rules, what rules did it change, and why? – reveals that rules were changed always to constrict voting power, not to democratize it; to restrict financial transparency, not to make the federation more open in real-time; to increasingly locate federation resources exclusively among cultivated professional males, not to deploy those resources across the mosaic of diversity that its the American soccer landscape.  Five days from now, the totality of that framework will remain in place, likely regardless of who is (s)elected as the next US Soccer President.

In the next five days, its important for everyday American citizens who happen to give a damn about the sport of soccer to recognize their power. It is not – and never has been – located in the narrow, navel-gazing self-interests of the leaders of the Youth, Adult, Athletes and Professional Councils.   These groups number no more than one hundred people.  FIFA is told by US Soccer that we have 4,186,778 registered players; that doesn’t count the relatives, coaches and other enthusiasts in the game.

Which is where the Sports Act comes in.  That is our power to remake, re-shape and re-tool soccer – and sport – into the 21st Century catalyst for cultural growth and democratic expression it has to be for it, and for our love for it, to survive.

Read and master the text of the Act.  Then read and master the Act as coded into law.

Understand its original intent.  Realize how far we’ve strayed from that intent.

Challenge your representatives on the Act, its evolution, and what you’d like to see going forward.  Make manifest the citizen discussion that’s required for change in the USA.

Take note of the (s)election, but don’t lose hope in its outcome.  As that system generates a choice that is no choice, we can come into the fullness of our own citizen power and begin to demand the sport we’ll need going forward.

We have to, if soccer is to survive in any form we can recognize.

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MLS Miami is great, but what about Overtown? – questions posed to David Beckham, 15 JANUARY 2018

Found here:

Dear David…you’ve placed a stadium in historic Overtown, and you seem not to have any awareness of the historic black experience that is Overtown, the horror of Overtown’s dismantlement and importantly you have no black Director on staff to tell you the difference…

How do you plan to connect the Miami soccer project to people who live right where the stadium will be, in a community with a HISTORY of white exploitation of the community to the detriment of its residents, without a leader of color to help?

Is this on your agenda? I ask because you seem to be surrounded by business people / folks of Latino/Hispanic descent, and that’s all well and good, but the physical presence of the club will be in a historically harmed black community. Where’s your black leadership?

Overtown, Miami prior to its decimation by “urban renewal,” a new highway in I-95 and a region that didn’t care about black success or black community.

I worked in world football and know that leaders who are African-American who know the sport and have worked in communities like Overtown seem rare, but as someone who is exactly of that background, not as rare as you might think…please get one of us to help!

Want to see your project in Overtown work for you and everyone else…good luck going forward.
—–

An overview of Overtown, Miami, and the harms that have been done to it.  Reach out to David Beckham on his Twitter feed to ask him to answer the above questions, with a particular focus on his answer to ensuring no further harm to Overtown with any new stadium/soccer project.  Send me any responses you get and I’ll update this post accordingly.

Owning Your Nickels: How Gulati and the Glitterati Can’t See Past Their Privilege to Deliver a Future for U.S. Soccer

Three million, four hundred and sixty-nine thousand human beings.

That’s the population of Uruguay in 2018.

Back in 1950, when Uruguay won the World Cup by beating Brazil in Brazil, their population was about 2.1 million folks.  Brazil’s population at that time was just under 54 million people.

A lot of those engaged with soccer have looked at the success of Uruguayan football (15 Copa America titles, 2 World Cup victories, loads of internationals playing at the highest levels) and tried to understand it.  In this article, I will simply compare and contrast it with the framework on the sport offered up by Sunil Gulati, and by its very comparison lay bare some of the fundamental flaws in the thinking of the American soccer leadership of the past twenty years, giving us a foothold into a much better paradigm for American soccer going forward, and a platform to demand from  – and upon which to challenge – any ostensible candidates for soccer leadership next month.

These comparisons are especically cogent in light of Gulati’s latest reported comments about the “nonsense” he sees in various ways of thinking about soccer’s future.  Gulati submits:

“…We have $150 million in the bank. That’s from 10-15 years of savings…To end pay-to-play, to do a little back-of-the-envelope analysis, without knowing what every kid pays, would mean paying $150 million a month, every month to end it. There’s nowhere in the world that has no pay-to-play. What you want to make sure of is that anybody can afford it. But you have millions of kids playing, and the thought that we’re going to end play-to-play is nonsensical…”

In taking a good look at Gulati’s submissions, where he starts his analysis – there WILL/MUST be pay-to-play – and the framework on it – wholly economic, as suits an economics teacher, which Gulati is – is itself instructive.

Let’s jump back to Uruguay (wildly successful by any measure in their soccer development, and certainly entirely dominant relative to the U.S.’ efforts) for a moment.

Did you know that in and among Uruguay youth leagues, there are no standings?  Zero records of wins and losses.  Why?  Well, the focus isn’t on wins and losses (or giving ignorant parachute parents simple – simpletonic – reasons to justify their $10K a year on a “travel team”), its on practicably getting young people better during practice at aspects of the game (not the game itself, a distinction with a difference) and demonstrating that development during matches; who actually wins and loses is largely irrelevant in that work.

Did you know that ONFI – one of the two bodies organizing youth play in Uruguay – exclusively utilizes the “7 v 7” format in games for kids ages 5 to 9, and the “9 v 9” format for games for kids ages 10 to 13?  Why?  Well, for similar reasons that Brazilian youth programs deploy futsal as a primary developmental tool for youth understanding of the principles of any game of football…it’s easier to see what the coach is talking about with less bodies in the way of the dynamics.  Once you can see and experience those dynamics that are being coached, the easier it is to both see them in 11 v 11 play and to exploit them in “breakdowns” in areas of the pitch where, even if there are 11 other defenders on the pitch, there might be far less to manage.  Of course, Gulati and the glitterati name and blame the “culture” of American soccer for the reasons why futsal and small squad play aren’t central to the youth setup, as if culture isn’t, sociologically, simply “daily ways of life,” and as if governing bodies don’t by their very choices help determine what daily ways of soccer life will be.  But doing that would mean owning the privilege you gain from the status quo (more on that later).

Did you know that in Uruguay you cannot come near a sideline to coach young people of ANY age in soccer without – at minimum – a yearlong license course (and that’s the minimum…that’s the, like, minimum they’d demand of the above-linked Edinson Cavani, if HE wanted to coach…almost all Uruguayan youth coaches have MUCH more training than that…)?

Did you know that in Uruguay youth soccer programs are assessed in their quality and effectiveness as a whole, across the lifespan of the youth, and not in their age bracket segments?

Did you know that the VAST majority of playing opportunities for Uruguayan youth are NOT play-to-play?  That they are in fact free at the point of participation for youth players?

Now which model, given any comparison of success between Uruguay and the USA, would you want to implement?  Which one should be on the lips of every candidate for U.S. Soccer President?

And, importantly, why would Gulati break breath to even talk about pay to play in this context?

Understanding Gulati means understanding a maxim of political analysis, namely “where you stand depends on where you sit.”  And Gulati sits in a space rife with privilege.

I mean this in the deepest, social justice/social progress sense.  Privilege here means being able to be stone-cold ignorant to the truth of other people, places and systems, with little to no consequence.  We all have some privilege; we all have, as MTSU scholar Jacqui Wade puts it, “A couple of nickels in the quarter.”

But we’ve got to own our nickels.   Gulati, and those like him, who have always operated within a US Soccer that, connected with the CONCACAF of Blazer and Warner, saw and positioned itself as the North American expression of FIFA luxury, access and power, never thought about and to this day cannot conceive of a model for American soccer that begins with the most vulernable in mind.  Of course, no perspective that starts and is centered in “soccer as economic engine” will ever do that, and so Gulati operates at multiple removes from the reality that’s necessary to transform US Soccer into a useful experience for most Americans, most of the time, while in every instance keeping track of the humanity of the most vulnerable.  In fact, if Gulati were reading this right now, his force-field of privilege would be turning these words into the literary equivalent of the teach talking during the Peanuts episodes.

He, and those that think like him, can’t hear a different model going forward, even if, like the Uruguayan example, the truth of the matter is right there in front of him to see.

But what we need is a group of women and men who can see that future clearly.  A group who own their nickels and say, for example, “No, I don’t think about soccer for the differently-abled everyday.  That reflects my privilege…but if you are differently-abled and love soccer, that’s all you think about, and we need modes and forms of the soccer experience that ensure you can participate.”

We need men and women who recognize, unlike an economics prof, that almost nothing that we’ll remember on our deathbed begins and ends with its economic value…that, in fact, most things we deeply care about either have infinite value to us in that system, or no value at all (either rendering that framework less than useful).  It’s the old test I’d deploy ats a university visiting professor at Towson U. in Maryland when confronted with the ECON 101 boyz making their way into a humanities class with Milton Friedman-on-the-brain, thinking that every single thing is economic, and coming to a physical standstill when I submitted “Tell me the value, in U.S. dollars, of your mother’s love for you.”

Like those young students, Gulati and his ilk are left at a standstill when the larger cultural significance of a shared world sport in its American expression is demanded and desired. It’s they “why” behind why Gulati is now going places and speakign out with such bitterness toward the way the tide has turned against his “legacy,” with him not even realizing that that notion of legacy itself is a vestige component of a framework (started in tacitly racist ways under Rous, exploded under Havelange and Blatter and concretized here under Blazer and Warner) that failed us from the start, and we’re happy to see fail in the end.

Challenge any candidate you support on these matters directly: form where do they derive their soccer privilege, and how do they “own their nickels” to move beyond them to deliver a platform for the sport that works for most of us, most of the time, while tracking the vulnerable?

Rosemary’s Baby and the Bathwater

USSF/SUM/MLS “leaders”: what makes you think we want any of your historical knowledge in our soccer future?

by Mel Brennan

From 2006 to whenever the next U.S. Soccer President is elected, Sunil Gulati presided over, advanced and celebrated a particular vision of soccer in the United States.

It included suing the union representing the world champion United States women’s national team, being subject to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) federal wage discrimination complaint from those same victorious women, failing to dismantle – or even disenculturate – pay-to-fail in youth development nationally and extending and maintaining working friendships – at minimum – with criminally indicted – or, like Chuck Blazer, my former boss, straight-up criminals who pled guilty – soccer leadership glitterati around the globe.

He – and his hand-picked heir apparent, Soccer United Marketing’s Kathy Carter (aka, “the money”) – will work very hard to tell you about all the ostensible gains they’ve made while in the driver’s seats at our soccer federation (ours because it operates with the mandate of our elected officials, not because we’ve ever been owner/operators, but that’s coming).  But what they won’t tell you is the damned glissade of broken culture that makes those “gains” short-term at best, and steps directly backward at worst.

Time and again on this channel I have advocated for twin pillars of soccer (of all sport, actually); yes, the economic activity that comes from POWER & PERFORMANCE SPORT is important, but cannot be the singular most important thing…as compelling as delivering in a sporting way at the highest level is (and will remain), nothing that leaves the vast majority of its participants behind by age 33 can be deemed so in healthy human culture.

No, a concomitant and equivalently intense commitment to the other pillar of soccer, PLEASURE AND PARTICIPATION SPORT, must be developed, invested in, maintained, propagated, and fully delivered into United States soccer ways of life for the sport to thrive and survive over the long term.  This is where seeing the world, and everything in it, as ultimately economic, fails us completely.  Sunil, a World Bank economist, unsurprisingly, and his inheritors can do nothing but; the next President of U.S. Soccer must be able to say clearly that there are lots of things in our daily ways of life that either have INFINITE value in any economic framework (making that framework less than useful), or stand outside it.

How do we ensure that, to give just one of so many examples, mothers and fathers get time with their daughters and sons in the context of enjoying their lives in, on and around a soccer pitch?  Forget “the game” as its currently fired at us in suburbs around the nation…just think about kicking a ball, together as your town’s soccer proponents, on a Sunday afternoon.  That type of “quality time,” for those kids and parents and guardians and even those who just bear witness to it, echoes across eternity.  The delta between caring about the people and caring about the outcome is found in our embrace, individually and systemically, of these moments and opportunities.  They have INFINITE value to our society, the health of our culture, and create sporting spaces worth caring about.

Today we have over 3 million young people playing in spaces that aren’t necessarily worth caring about.  When we have enough of them, we’ll have a sport that isn’t worth participating in.  Think about that the next time you see parents arguing with each other over a match of ten-year olds, or screaming at the ref, or – as my wife and I witnessed – giving their kid approval to harm another kid over a perceived earlier foul.

When the baby resembles Rosemary’s baby, it’s time to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We need an entirely new vision, one that will naturally answer both the question “what is U.S. soccer culture” in a way that matters, and answers the more important question “what difference did soccer make in the U.S.?”

Forget Gulati.  Forget Carter.  Look to truly new ideas that change the landscape for us and our children and deliver soccer ways of LIFE that are worth caring about.

 

I’m Running For U.S. Soccer President

SPOILERS below…

Picture1

No, I’m not.  But if I were, this is what my platform would look like, and I encourage you to demand a similar platform from each candidate asking for your support:

  • Five Clear Commitments:
    • Power to the People
    • Equity and Equality
    • Two Pillars of Soccer
    • Play as a Human Right
    • Real-time Transparency

 

  • Power to the People
  • Revision or Abolition of Bylaws 212, 231, 232, 302, 303, 311, 312, 313, 314, 321, 322, 323, 401, 402, 411, 412, 413, 414, 415, 431, 501, 502, 512, 513, 531, 541, 542, 701, 702, 703, 705, 706, 801, 802, 803
  • Deep inclusion of citizen voices and votes
  • Reduction or elimination of power-retaining mechanisms
  • Full deployment of power-diffusing mechanisms
  • Results/Science-based accountability across elected period
  • Transparency, public examination of documents

 

  • Equal pay for Men and Women
  • One transparent “pot” of sponsorship and competitive dollars
  • Title IX-aligned equity across all facets of the national program (monetary, fields, resources, lodging, training)
  • Open access to USSF resources regardless of race, color, gender/gender identification/gender fluidity, creed, religion, age, disability, and genetic information

 

  • Two Pillars of United States Soccer
  • Pleasure and Participation Soccer
  • Fully resourced approach to the deployment of soccer as lifelong learning and leisure tool
  • All-Access commitment
  • Sport as a lifelong learnable and permanent pleasure toolset
  • Deep community engagement (focus on vulnerable areas)
  • Multiple forms of the sport (futsal, soccer gaming, etc.)
  • Power and Performance Soccer
  • A commitment to technical excellence (Technical Director)
  • A commitment to competing against previous highest results
  • A commitment to competing at all appropriate levels
  • A commitment to NOT competing at inappropriate levels
  • Management of any deviant over-conformity to the sport ethic through culturally competent leadership

 

  • Play as a Human Right
  • Delivering a complete commitment to Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and extending those rights to persons engaged in soccer across their entire lives, through the revision and re-construction of the programs of US Soccer:
  • The right to rest
  • The right to leisure
  • The right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to age
  • The right to participate freely in cultural and artistic life of sport (soccer)
  • The right to the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity of all kinds as they relate to soccer

 

  • Real-time Transparency
  • Real-time access to information and happenings (all US Soccer data online, free, open-sourced and accessible; all U.S. Soccer Federation meetings, sessions, committee meetings, elections and other official business broadcast in video and audio, live, with English and Spanish translations)
  • An end to secret balloting
  • Auditing: An external examination of an organisation’s accounts, processes, functions and performance to produce an independent and credible assessment of their compliance with applicable laws and regulations, with term limits of one audit organization per state per audit to limit corruptible features
  • Automatic Exchange of Information (AIE) with public servers regarding USSF assets, dividends, interests, royalties, salaries, contracts agreements and all other matter
  • Strengthening of ethics rules, Conflict of Interest rules and the USSF Code of Conduct; transparent posting of officials’ ethics and conflict dossiers and responses for public consumption
  • An end to clientele-ism through systemic term limits for partners, sponsors, and organizations offering goods/services to USSF
  • Zero-tolerance policy toward formation of internal or external cartels; public transparency on all contracts with USSF
  • Deep disclosure of all financial products (matches, tournaments, etc.)
  • Net Promoter, Outcome and Compliance score systems established, scores published, and minimums required for officials to maintain positions
  • USSF signatory to conventions and agreements reflective of the above-mentioned values
  • Permanent debarment lists
  • Usable disclosure; disclosure in the formats easily understood by laymen, with all data supporting such disclosure available in simplest format for public members to go deeper in their analysis/criticism
  • Enhanced due diligence including validation and documentation by third parties concomitant to the transparency commitments mentioned above
  • Zero tolerance on facilitation
  • Governance model that seeks to always update tools that ensure a USSF governance that is participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient, responsive and inclusive, respecting the rule of law and minimizing opportunities for corruption.

First Principles: The Platform of the Next President of U.S. Soccer

Sharing three things to which any serious candidate for American soccer’s highest office must commit if soccer is to matter at all in the decade to come, and beyond.

by Mel Brennan

(1) Sport in general – and soccer in particular – will only be what we make it; we can only make of it what we can see.  Thus, we can afford no soccer mythology, only organizational transparency.  The next U.S. Soccer President must be a servant-leader in forging change in this area.

The godfather of sport sociology, Jay Coakley of the University of Colorado, submits that three things make up what he calls the Great Sport Myth (GSM):

  1. The pervasive and nearly unshakable belief in the inherent purity and goodness of sport;
  2. That the purity and goodness of sport is transmitted to those who participate in or consume it;
  3. That sport inevitably leads to individual and community development.

In the decade and a half since my thirty months with CONCACAF and FIFA, I have worked with investigative journalists, media outlets soccer fans and soccer critics to disabuse everyday people of the idea that soccer, on its own, generates good, pure outcomes.

Soccer is run by human beings.  By men, particularly.  And their effort to date must be found wanting.

The levels of corruption I and others revealed were unparalleled in the history of international sport governance;  the Salt Lake scandals of the International Olympic Committee were small change compared to the deep, historic and abiding dishonesty, bribery, crimes, exploitation, extortion, fraud, graft, nonfeasance, malfeasance, nepotism, crookedness, demoralization, misrepresentation, payoffs, payola, racketeering, shadiness, and Manichean venality of soccer’s leadership since at least 1970.

These truths, combined with the pervasiveness of the GSM, allowed decades of damage to the world’s most prolific sport, all under the guise of something good and pure.  The GSM stood in-between our natural proclivity towards curious inquiry, stood in the way of us looking at – and demanding we can look at – the day-to-day operations of something that claims to represent us.  We abandoned transparency to myth.

Never again.  And “never again” must mean that we look critically at what we mean, want and expect when we say “U.S. Soccer,” and “U.S. soccer,” because they are, in fact, at least two different things.  And the next President must be able to tell that difference.

(2) Sport in general – and soccer in particular – must be developed with two pillars in mind; one is what Coakley has called “power and performance sport,” the other “pleasure and participation sport.” Both have infinite value, but only the latter will apply to most participants most of the time.  The next U.S. Soccer President must be an expert-seeker in forging change in this area.

Three years ago, when I wrote “A Better FIFA” on these pages, I shared an image I’ll share again here:

betterfifaframework_zpsef789afb.png

As you can read, these two pillars describe entirely different ways of engaging the sport of soccer.  Only one, the pleasure and participation framework, ensures a lifetime of enjoyment with the sport.  But it cannot allow us to test ourselves and our limits the way the narrow time we have in our lives with power and performance soccer can.  One platform can be a form of “pressure cooker” out of which skills can be forged, interdependent units can thrive and glorious victories achieved.  The other sees us as engaged with soccer at 70 years of age as we were at age 7.  Both are required in the American soccer experience for it to be future-proofed against the hoary vagaries and narrowing of intent that outside forces place upon sport in America (and thorughout the world).  The U.S. can lead here, delivering a future form of the sport that sets the standard for others to follow – our favorite thing to do – but it needs the right leader, one who can see this future, now.

Both frameworks on sport’s possibility must be fully embraced at the beginning for U.S. Soccer to have a foundation from which to proceed.  Combine that with the best of what’s known by scientists on child development and sport – such as the work found here – and both pillars get transformed in terms of the lived experiences of youth 0-5, 6-8, 9-12 and 13-17.  Expertise on child development is severly lacking in the coaching regimes found in and among youth soccer communities today.  It’s the why behind why, for example, kids the ages of 4-5 run aroud playing “beehive soccer,” to the chagrin of coaches, parents and others who expect more without knowing the science, and changing both their expectations and the games they place in front of kids accordingly.

(3) Forms of soccer in the United States must be made permanently and robustly accessible to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations of the nation, particularly keeping track of the access of poor and working class communities of color.  The next U.S. Soccer President must be a civil rights speaker in forging change in this area.

There are, in 2017, about 75 million children in the United States, broken down relatively evenly at about 25 million kids across three major child development “gateways” in terms of age (not the only way to measure development, or even the best way, but I digress).  As the National Center for Children in Poverty reveals:

…Children under 18 years represent 23 percent of the [U.S.] population, but they comprise 32 percent of all people in poverty. Many more children live in families with incomes just above the poverty threshold. Among all children, 44 percent live in low-income families and approximately one in every five (21 percent) live in poor families. Being a child in a low-income or poor family does not happen by chance. Parental education and employment, race/ethnicity, and other factors are associated with children’s experience of economic insecurity…

How can sport insert itself into this damning dynamic?

The better candidate for U.S. Soccer President would respond “How can it not?”

The health and well-being benefits of soccer in particular are well documented.  Connecting vulnerable communities – and, most notably, the children of those communities – with a form of recreation, movement, ethical sampling and social connection like soccer transforms lives.

That’s the work soccer can do in the U.S.; that must be the Worthy Work of U.S. Soccer.

So…a servant-leader, an expert-seeker and a civil rights speaker…that’s a meaningful remit.

Does your favorite candidate have a clear and measurable platform to get us there?

Or are we stuck in the old mythology of sport, unable to see clearly to the next milestone ahead?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

A Footballing Declaration of Independence from FIFA

When in the Course of sporting events, it becomes necessary for the stakeholders of football – everyday people – to dissolve the political bands of FIFA which have disconnected them one with another.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Sporting Rights, that among these are a Sporting Life, Sporting Liberty and the pursuit of Sporting Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Sport Governance is instituted among the People, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Sport Governance becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Sport Governance, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Sporting Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Sport Governance bodies long established, like FIFA, should not be changed for light and transient causes; but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Objects – Robbing the Sport and Elevating Themselves Above It – evinces a design to reduce them under the absolute Despotism of a Havelange or a Blatter, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Sport Governance, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of the People; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Sport Governance. The history of the President, Executive Committee and Congress of FIFA is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over the People. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world:

  • No Voting by the People / No Consent of the Governed
  • No Accountability through Voting of National Football Officials to the People
  • Secret Elections
  • Secret Pay
  • Substandard Pay to Women
  • No version of the Sport for the Differently-Abled
  • No Commitment to the Pillars of Sport Beyond Commercial Power-and-Performance Sport
  • No Real-time Transparency of Fund Disbursement

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by silence from FIFA. The Sporting Princes of FIFA – the FIFA President and the FIFA Executive Committee –  whose characters are thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, are unfit to be the sporting leaders of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our congressional footballing brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their Congress to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over football. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in Status Quo, in Change Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United Football Citizens of the World, in General Congress, Assembled Online, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of the Sporting World, solemnly publish and declare, That Football ought to be Free and Independent of FIFA; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Federation Inernationale de Football Association, and that all political connection between them and FIFA and its National Associations and various governing bodies, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent football citizens, they have full Power to pay men and women equally, value participation sport more than performance sport, contract and establish commerce with entities who transparently support democratic distribution of football resources with an eye toward the most vulnerable, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent football citizens may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, I begin by pledging to each of you my Sporting Life, my Sporting Fortune and my sacred Honor.

—– Mel Brennan

Football – or soccer – is our sport.  It is a global phenomenon.  It is democratic in its distribution, but no in its governance.  That is, football is organically found in every corner of the globe, played by all kinds of people; however its leadership is a narrow slice of those people, and its governance doesn’t include those people at all.  We are citizens of no nation, football constituents with no Congress.  We make up everything that matters about the beautiful game, but have zero say in it.

For those of us around the world who see football as the most democratic form of sporting expression in the history of the world, that type of disenfranchisement is intolerable.  And as media outlets ramp up their coverage of the FIFA “election,” the gap between what happens at that event and what football’s citizens need is ever widening.

FIFA has shown at every turn that they cannot be reformed.  Won’t you commit to, and share, the above Declaration?

Pledge YOUR sacred honor to a new football governance, today.