The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is the official governing body of soccer in the United States. It is a non-profit organization that has existed and has been a part of U.S. soccer since 1913.
What does the USSF do? The USSF is responsible for organizing and promoting soccer at all levels, from youth leagues to professional teams and national teams.
The USSF is affiliated with FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, and is responsible for selecting and managing the US men’s and women’s national teams. The federation also oversees the development of soccer coaches and referees, as well as the administration of various leagues and tournaments throughout the country.
The USSF plays a very important role in the development and promotion of soccer in the United States. Its efforts have helped to grow the sport’s popularity and success in the country, and it continues to work towards improving the quality of play and increasing participation at all levels.
As you can already tell, the USSF does a lot for the sport! Let’s dive into the organization some more and learn about its influence on soccer on a domestic and international level!
Is USSF the Same as U.S. Soccer?
U.S. Soccer is often used interchangeably with the USSF, but it is important to note that U.S. Soccer is just one of the many programs and initiatives that fall under the umbrella of the USSF. U.S. Soccer is the national governing body for soccer in the United States and is responsible for organizing and overseeing the country’s national teams, including the Men’s and Women’s National Teams.
The organization works closely with other soccer organizations, such as Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), to ensure that soccer in the United States continues to grow and thrive.
Additionally, it unifies youth soccer in the United States.
History of the United States Soccer Federation
The United States Soccer Federation was founded in 1913 and was formerly known as the United States Football Association. It was one of the world’s first organizations to be affiliated with FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. The USSF has a rich history that dates back over a century, with many milestones and achievements along the way.
The USSF has worked hard to promote the sport and increase its popularity in the U.S. Even though it is growing in participation and popularity, it still lags behind American football and basketball.
Over the years, the USSF has continued to grow and evolve. In 1974, the USSF created the North American Soccer League (NASL), which was the first professional soccer league in the United States. The NASL helped to increase interest in the sport and paved the way for the creation of other professional soccer leagues in the country.
In 1994, the United States hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time. This was a major milestone for soccer in the United States and helped to further increase its popularity. The tournament was a huge success, with record attendance and impressive TV ratings.
North America will host the 2026 World Cup and it is poised to be a smash hit with games scattered across U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Structure and Governance of USSF
As we mentioned above, is a non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago and is a full member of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. The USSF is responsible for overseeing American soccer at the international, professional, and amateur levels.
The USSF is governed by a Board of Directors and the National Council. The Board of Directors is responsible for setting policy and overseeing the management of the organization, while the National Council is responsible for making decisions on important issues such as the election of officers and the adoption of bylaws and policies.
The USSF is divided into several departments, each responsible for a different aspect of American soccer. These departments include:
- National Teams: responsible for overseeing the men’s and women’s national teams at all levels, from youth to senior.
- Professional Leagues: responsible for overseeing professional soccer leagues in the United States, including Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
- Youth Soccer: responsible for overseeing youth soccer organizations and programs in the United States.
- Referees: responsible for overseeing the training and development of referees at all levels of American soccer.
- Coaching: responsible for overseeing the training and development of coaches at all levels.
In addition to these departments, the USSF also has several committees and task forces that focus on specific areas of American soccer, such as diversity and inclusion, safety, and player development.
Competitions Organized by USSF
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is responsible for organizing and sanctioning soccer competitions in the United States. Here are some of the major competitions organized by USSF:
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest ongoing soccer competition in the United States, dating back to 1914.
It is a knockout tournament that includes teams from all levels of the American soccer pyramid, from amateur teams to Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs.
The winner of the U.S. Open Cup qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1993 and currently has 29 teams, 26 in the United States and 3 in Canada.
The regular season runs from March to October, followed by the playoffs, which culminate in the MLS Cup, the league’s championship game.
National Women’s Soccer League
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is the top professional women’s soccer league in the United States. It was founded in 2012 and currently has 12 teams.
The regular season runs from April to October, followed by the playoffs, which culminate in the NWSL Championship.
Youth National Team Competitions
USSF also organizes various youth national team competitions, including the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, and the FIFA U-20 World Cup and FIFA U-17 World Cup.
These competitions provide opportunities for young American players to gain international experience and develop their skills.
United States National Teams
The U.S. men’s national team, also known as the USMNT, represents the United States in men’s international soccer competitions.
The women’s national team, also known as the USWNT, is a world leader in women’s soccer at every level…except for the 2023 World Cup :/ The team has won four FIFA Women’s World Cups and four Olympic Gold Medals, an accomplishment that no other country has achieved.
Both the USMNT and the USWNT have had notable successes in international competitions. I think the world has caught up to the women’s U.S. team and the men are catching up to the world.
Sponsorship and Partnerships
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has established partnerships with various companies to support its mission of promoting and developing soccer in the United States. These partnerships provide funding, resources, and other support to help the USSF achieve its goals.
One of the most significant partnerships is with Nike, which has been the official kit supplier for the United States men’s and women’s national teams since 1995. The partnership was renewed in 2021 with a long-term agreement that extends the partnership further. The scope of the integrated partnership includes the creation of innovative products, fan engagement, and community outreach programs.
Another major partner is Deloitte, which has been the official professional services provider for the USSF since 2016. The multi-year sponsorship renewal was announced in 2022, continuing Deloitte’s commitment to supporting the USSF’s mission of promoting soccer in the United States.
In addition to Nike and Deloitte, the USSF has partnerships with other companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Allstate, and Volkswagen. Anheuser-Busch is the official beer sponsor of the USSF, while Allstate is a partner in the USSF’s efforts to protect the future of the sport through safety initiatives. Volkswagen is the official automotive partner of the USSF, supporting the development of soccer programs across the country.
These partnerships provide vital support to the USSF and help to promote soccer in the United States. By working with these companies, the USSF is able to provide resources and programs that help to develop the sport at all levels, from youth soccer to the national teams.
Criticism and Controversies
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has faced criticism and controversies over the years, particularly in relation to issues of equality and discrimination. Here are some notable examples:
- Equal Pay Dispute: The USWNT has been in a long-standing legal battle with the USSF over equal pay. In 2022, the USWNT reached a $24 million settlement with the USSF over claims of gender discrimination. The dispute had been ongoing since 2019, when the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the USSF alleging unequal pay and treatment compared to the men’s national team. The settlement was seen as a significant victory for the USWNT and a step towards greater equality in soccer.
- Racism Allegations: In 2021, a member of the USSF’s athletes’ council was expelled after delivering a speech containing false statements and racist allegations. The incident sparked outrage and led to calls for greater diversity and inclusion within the USSF. The organization has faced criticism in the past for its handling of racism and discrimination, with some arguing that it has not done enough to address these issues.
- Leadership Controversies: The USSF has also faced criticism over its leadership and governance. In 2020, USSF President Carlos Cordeiro resigned amid controversy over the organization’s handling of the equal pay dispute. Some argued that Cordeiro had not done enough to support the USWNT and had failed to address issues of inequality within the organization. The USSF has also faced criticism for its decision-making processes and lack of transparency in certain areas.
- Misconduct Investigation: In 2022, an independent investigation found evidence of misconduct within the USSF’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The investigation revealed instances of sexual harassment, abuse, and other forms of misconduct by coaches, players, and other officials. The findings led to calls for greater accountability and reform within the NWSL and the USSF as a whole.
Overall, the USSF has faced significant criticism and controversy over the years, particularly in relation to issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion.
While the organization has taken steps to address these issues, there is still much work to be done to ensure that soccer in the United States is truly equitable and inclusive for all.
Future Plans and Goals
The United States Soccer Federation has been working tirelessly to achieve its mission of making soccer a major sport in the United States. In line with this mission, the USSF has set some ambitious goals for the future.
One of the primary goals of the USSF is to develop a world-class player development system that will produce top-quality players capable of competing at the highest levels of international soccer. To achieve this goal, the USSF has invested heavily in youth development programs, coaching education, and player identification and scouting initiatives.
Another critical goal of the USSF is to increase the popularity and visibility of soccer in the United States. The USSF is committed to expanding the reach of soccer to new audiences, including underserved communities and non-traditional soccer markets. To achieve this goal, the USSF has launched several grassroots initiatives, including the Soccer Across America program, which aims to bring soccer to communities that lack access to organized sports.
The USSF is also committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in soccer. The organization recognizes the importance of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all players, coaches, and fans, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. To achieve this goal, the USSF has implemented several diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the creation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.
Finally, the USSF is focused on achieving success at the international level. The organization is committed to supporting the men’s and women’s national teams and helping them compete at the highest levels of international soccer.