CHICAGO – The U.S. Soccer board of directors conducted its final quarterly meeting of the year on Friday. The meeting was held virtually.

Highlights included new board members joining for the first time since the amendment to the bylaws to increase athlete representation from 20 percent to 33.3 percent was approved by the National Council during an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 23. The change, which moved the board to 21 members, was done to come into compliance with a new federal law and USOPC bylaw regarding the representation of athletes in national governing bodies for sports.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone welcomed the new Athlete representatives – Nelson Akwari, Nicole Barnhart, Sean Boyle and Danielle Slaton, youth council representatives – Mike Cullina and Michael Karon – and also professional council representative Garrison Mason.

U.S. Soccer Chief Financial Officer Pinky Raina also included an update on U.S. Soccer’s FY’22 preliminary operating financial results, which were favorable in comparison to the budget. The federation’s operating revenue and expenses were favorable after seeing higher senior national team revenues with capacity levels exceeding expectations, while costs were decreased though operating efficiencies in senior National Team events and delayed youth programming due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Stuart Sharp, the Director of Extended National Teams Technical and Grassroots, shared insight on U.S. Soccer’s Disability Month being celebrated in December. In addition, plans are finalized for the return to play for the men’s para national team as well as the launch of the women’s para national team, while the AdaptAndThrive Invitational event in January will serve as a connection point for members and growth of the game in the future. Last month, U.S. Soccer also announced its new partnership with Degree, which is working together with the USPNT to redefine what it means to be a “mover” and inspire future generations of athletes with disabilities to move with confidence.

An update was also provided on the completion of venue visits to all 22 candidate host cities for the 2026 World Cup. Each visit included a presentation from the candidate host city as well as inspections with function area experts in stadium architecture and infrastructure, legal, finance, operations, transportation, accommodations, training sites, FIFA Fan Festivals, commercial rights, and more. Full-assessment evaluations and discussions on the candidate host cities are ongoing, with an announcement on the final host cities projected to be made by Q1 or Q2 of 2022.

Below are other topics that were discussed by the board in the public and executive sessions:

* Sharp provided an update on opportunities and planning for the 2022 men and women’s beach national teams, as well as updates on the men’s futsal national team and plans for a women’s futsal national team.

* Sporting director Earnie Stewart, USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf and USMNT general manager Brian McBride provided a recap on the senior National Team’s performances this fall and their upcoming schedule.

* The board also provided updates on the 2022 AGM Bylaw Amendment proposals, which have been sent for review:

— Bylaw 401, Section 1(c) – proposed by the Athlete’s Council, this would create a $125,000 salary for the President.

— Bylaw 401 – proposed by John Collins and Mike Edwards, this would be amended to reduce term limits from three terms to two terms for officers. It would also limit persons for running for office after serving six years.

— Bylaw 511 – proposed by Lisa Carnoy, this would reduce the time that the Board would need to approve the budget from 60 days to 45 days prior to the National Council. This would not change when the National Council receives the budget, which would still be 30 days before the National Council Meeting.

— Bylaw 109 – proposed by USASA, this would lower the National Association requirement for the Adult Council from 200,000 registered players to 150,000 registered players.

The next scheduled board of directors meetings will be during the Annual General Meeting in Atlanta, Ga. March 6-9.