After more than a decade, the U.S. Soccer Federation is getting a new president.
Carlos Cordeiro, a former partner at banking giant Goldman Sachs, was elected to the position on Saturday. He was previously vice president of the federation, which governs the sport in the U.S. and oversees the American national soccer teams.
The appointment comes at a pivotal time for U.S. Soccer. In October, the men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup — a big disappointment that has threatened to set back the progress soccer has made with American fans. The men’s and women’s World Cups are huge events that drum up interest from viewers and put the sport in the spotlight.
The 61-year-old Cordeiro, who will serve a four-year term, logged a 30-year career in international finance. He advised global corporations, the World Bank and governments such as Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid South Africa.
According to U.S. Soccer, Cordeiro is of Colombian and Portuguese heritage. When he was 15, he came to the United States from India with his widowed mother and three siblings. Ten years later, he became an American citizen. Cordeiro attended Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
“I’ve been blessed to live the American Dream, and I want to help our athletes achieve theirs,” he said on his campaign site.
Cordeiro, who first joined the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2007 as its independent director, replaces Sunil Gulati.
The organization’s longest-serving president, Gulati announced he wouldn’t run for reelection shortly after the big World Cup loss last fall. He first took the top U.S. Soccer job in 2006.
Cordeiro’s election, by members of U.S. Soccer’s National Council, was contested — the first contested election since 1998.
He won after three rounds of voting. The seven others vying for the job included Soccer United Marketing president and former player Kathy Carter, soccer analyst and former player Kyle Martino, and Hope Solo, former goalkeeper and World Cup champion.
“Thank you to those of you who have supported me today,” Cordeiro said in a statement. “This is incredibly humbling. … 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.”