Stu Holden explains Athlete Council’s support of Carlos Cordeiro

Grant Wahl and Alexi Lalas talk to Stuart Holden about Carlos Cordeiro's victory in the USSF presidential election.

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- In Orlando, we've got Alexi Lalis and Grant Wahl, who have been following the whole thing for us. They've also been scooping up people who have had a key role in this election. Stu Holden, of course, from our Fox Sports family, one of the people that is on that Athletes' Council. Guys, over to you.

- Thanks, Kate. Stu Holden here. The Athletes' Council decision to support Carlos Cordeiro, in my opinion, swung this election to Cordeiro. Can you put us in the room on how you guys made that decision?

- Yeah, I mean Grant, first and foremost, it wasn't easy. And to build a consensus of 20 people, and I can say, having been on the Athletes' Council for seven years now, this was the most engaged, this is the most informed, and the most that you've seen people care about this.

And I think that's one of the things that I take away from this election now, knowing that people involved in the process, people understand the power that you have in an athlete. And ultimately, that's what it came down to. We had an internal vote. There was a number of-- it wasn't a straight up, this is going to be the consensus candidate.

There was discussions. We had a break for dinner. We came back. There was another three-hour discussions, almost taking us to midnight. To the point where, I think we all realized what was most important here, was that we had a candidate that we could get behind. But also, that we could unify behind. And we could use that power of the athlete to make a statement in a time of discourse and all the separation and all the vitriol and everything that's going around US soccer right now.

That we had the ability to push our power behind someone and show that the athletes were in strength behind a single candidate. And I think that's what ultimately got us that consensus.

- Elaborate more on that. Because to me, I ask the question, why the block vote? There's no ramifications in that? Nobody is going to be punished for not voting their mind. But when you were getting down and convincing the group, whether it's you or anybody else, that this was what they needed to do. Put aside who it was for, just the concept of voting in block, why was it important?

- You know, Alexi, we were looking at it. And ultimately, we [INAUDIBLE] have athletes in leadership positions. Now, I know that might sound silly. Because you had Kyle Martino, you had Eric Wynalda, Caligiuri-- you had some former players that were in the race that I thought had run great campaigns. And I don't think anybody had done them a disservice during this last couple of months.

But ultimately what we felt as a council, and I'm saying we, because we did come to a consensus in the end, and there were people that felt strongly and had very intense and great debates. And it's something that I've loved this process because I've gotten to know people, I've gotten to know their ideas.

But again, just keep coming back to that, that we felt that right now, Carlos Cordeiro was the best candidate that could step in on day one--

- What did he say? What did he say to you to convince you that he was that?

- I think just the way he's carried himself. Now, I've known Carlos for a number of years. But his integrity speaks volumes to me. I think his vision, I think his international relations, especially when we're talking about the United bid. I think his ability to connect with some of the grassroots.

And ultimately, he believes in the power of the athlete as well, and empowering athletes going forward. And you can mark my words, that's something that we're going to hold him accountable, for some of the things that he's talked about from the governance, from general manager, from having athletes involved in soccer decisions.

And I hate people that are blanketing this, as well, now we have a business guy in charge. And it is going to be more of the same. Carlos Cordeiro is not Sunil Gulati. Carlos Cordeiro wants to lead with governance. He wants to lead by building a consensus. And I think he wants to empower some of those soccer people.

And some of the candidates that ran that did not win today, I hope they stay involved. I really do. And I think that some of the things that we've learned and uncovered from this, ultimately, will hold us in good stead going forward.

- You tired?

- Oh, man, I'm so tired. I don't like being on this side of the fence. I want to be where you guys are, and just poking questions at me.

- Well, I mean, my question for you, I guess, would be, there's a lot of unhappy fans I'm hearing from on Twitter right now, saying, this is not a change candidate. US soccer needs more change. What would you say to them?

- Actually, before I get to that Grant, can I just quickly say, there's been a lot of stuff. And we're talking about Twitter going around about the Athletes' Council. How there were 12 members here of a 20-- that's another reason why we vote as a block. Because you can give a vote to be consensus and still empower those people.

Now Brad had a game. Jonathan Spector had a game. Leslie Osborne just had a baby. Lori Lindsey flew in last night to be a part of this and flew out this morning because she had to be back for a family matter. So there was a lot more going on in there.

And I do believe that Carlos Cordeiro, in the things that he said, will run a new organization. And ultimately the way that he's going to structure this organization, it's going to give back to those that really deserve it. And that is grassroots. It is the youth. It is the adults. And ultimately, for that to all empower us, and hopefully in 2026, we can be winning a World Cup here on home soil.

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