Anthony J Buiniskis - President, NYSWYSA
The USSF Annual General Meeting was notable this year because the dissatisfaction of US Youth Soccer over the governing structure of the Federation reached a boiling point. Although the National Youth State Associations (of which New State West Youth Soccer Association is one) collectively represent 3.2 million playersaccounting for almost 80% of the Federations total membershipthe National Youth State Associations (such as our New State West Youth Soccer Association). are limited to barely 20% of the voting power. Approximately 20% is held by the adult amateur associations. The remaining 60% of the voting power has been given to the professional leagues and the Athletes Council, which is composed of current or recently retired professional players. Since the professional players tend to vote in alliance with the professional leagues, together these groups have the ability to block reforms that are supported by more than 90% of the Federations membership.
The USSF Annual General Meeting was notable this year because the dissatisfaction of US Youth Soccer over the governing structure of the Federation reached a boiling point. Although the National Youth State Associations (of which New State West Youth Soccer Association is one) collectively represent 3.2 million playersaccounting for almost 80% of the Federations total membershipthe National Youth State Associations (such as our New York State West Youth Soccer Association). are limited to barely 20% of the voting power. Approximately 20% is held by the adult amateur associations. The remaining 60% of the voting power has been given to the professional leagues and the Athletes Council, which is composed of current or recently retired professional players. Since the professional players tend to vote in alliance with the professional leagues, together these groups have the ability to block reforms that are supported by more than 90% of the Federations membership.
USSF Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of the US Soccer Federation was held on the morning of Friday, August 15, 2003. As the representative of 80,000 NYSWYSA players, I held only five of the more than 1,100 votes in the Federation Council.
The business meeting focused on consideration of proposals from US Youth Soccer and its members to heighten the Federations ethical standards for its business operations. Although I proudly cast our votes to support reforms that would have helped to safeguard the integrity and ethical standing of the Federation, I was disappointed when, almost without exception, these proposals were defeated. Indeed, in the year after the Enron and WorldCom financial scandals, it seems unfathomableand irresponsiblethat our Federation is refusing to implement reasonable standards for ethical business practices.
Consider the following list of proposals that were rejected by the Federation, despite a positive recommendation of the Federations Rules Committee and despite the support from groups representing more than 80% of the Federations membership.
- A bylaw that would have established a separate Audit Committee to review the finances and expenditures of the US Soccer Federation. A bylaw that would have precluded USSF Board members from receiving compensation from the Federation for their services as a Board member.
- A bylaw that would have guaranteed the right of aggrieved USSF members to bring an appeal to an impartial body at the national level.
- A bylaw that would have required 30 day notice of any proposed policy changes.
How did this happen? Although the US Youth Soccer delegates and many adult amateur groups voted together in support of these proposals, it became evident that the professional athletes and professional leagues voted en bloc to defeat proposals that would have required them to abide by more stringent ethical standards than currently allowed. The same groups also opposed proposals that would have guaranteed fundamental due process rights to every organizational member of the Federation.
As your representative at the Federation level, please be assured that I will continue to encourage the Federation to adopt bylaws that will ensure fair representation, due process, and ethical business standards. The players of New York West deserve no less from our US Federation.
Many delegations from other US Youth Soccer affiliates chose to boycott the Presidents Dinner on Friday evening to protest the Federations willingness to countenance low ethical business practices and its inequitable governing structure. .
US Youth Soccer Annual General Meeting
US Youth Soccer held its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, August 16, 2003. There was only one bylaw change considered: a proposal to impose term limits on every position on the US Youth Board of Directors. This proposal was defeated in a vote by secret ballot.
Next came elections. Incumbent Member-at-Large Representative Larry Harmon was re-elected by acclamation. There were two contested elections. Incumbent Vice-President Evelyn Gill won re-election despite a game challenge from Tony Buiniskis, the veteran president of the New York West Soccer Association. West Virginias Dennis Brumfield earned the Treasurers spot in three-way contest over Kentuckys Perry Alexander and Floridas Barb Newton, a pair of veteran state association presidents. Brumfield takes the financial reigns from the retiring Roy Smithers.
The meeting concluded with the adoption of a resolution inspired by the events of the previous day. The following resolution signals the fidelity of US Youth Soccer to its constituents and core values. It also serves notice to the Federation that US Youth Soccer will pursue every avenue to improve the Federation. Our game and its players will be better served when the Federation finally adopts generally accepted standards of ethics for its business operations. In addition, the soccer community in this country will be strengthened when the Federation establishes a governing structure with fair representation and guarantees of due process.
Whereas US Youth Soccer has requested that the United States Soccer Federation address the concerns of US Youth Soccer and the National State Associations about the inequities in the structure and governance of the Federation that adversely impact the ability of US Youth Soccer and its State Associations to preserve and pursue their core purposes and values and to preclude conflicting financial interests;
Be It Resolved by the National Council and the State Associations of US Youth Soccer that the State Presidents and National Council hereby authorize the executive officers of US Youth Soccer to:
1. Assemble all the issues and explore the appropriate courses of action associated with the filing of a grievance;
2. Prepare an appropriate grievance to be filed with the United States Olympic Committee; and,
3. Report back to the State Presidents on the progress of these directives not later than November 1, 2003.
Adopted this 16th day of August 2003.
President, US Youth Soccer
Secretary, US Youth Soccer
My support for ethical and institutional reforms at the US Soccer Federation reflects my dedication and commitment to safeguard the health, safety, and finances of our youth players. Although the platform of ethical bylaws was soundly defeated this weekend at the USSF annual general meeting, I will continue to advocate these necessary reforms.
There were some cries this weekend for revolution from the youth ranks. It remains my hope, however, that change can be achieved through dialogue, determined negotiation, and pursuit of available remedies. We cannot allow our quest for reform within the Federation to distractor even partially eclipseour efforts to build our game and serve our players.
Our goal should be to make our national soccer federation a reflection of our country. The US Soccer Federation must aspire to be the best in the world. It should be a beacon of democracy and an institution whose rule of law offers equal protection to every person. The United Statesand the United States Olympic Committeeshould accept nothing less from its national governing body for soccer.
We should all look forward to the day when the US Soccer Federation operates with the highest ethical standards and is governed under a fair system in which every voice may be valued and heard.
I wish to gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Paul C. Burke President, Utah Youth Soccer Association who was the author of this report. With his permission there have been minor alterations such as: listing of State Association and player numbers.
Anthony J Buiniskis