A Soccer Beyond Magazine Original – Michael Fricker wrote this piece about the structure of US Soccer for Soccer Beyond Magazine and it was originally published at http://magazine.soccerbeyond.com/
Many soccer heads out there know that the United States Soccer Federation is responsible for the national teams, but the status as Governing Body means the organizational structure is much more encompassing.
The United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (USSF) is a National Governing Body of soccer in this country. The United States Olympic Committee recognizes it as such. In addition, the USSF is the United States national association member of the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and has been since 1913. USSF then is a member of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). That sums up US Soccer’s place in the world. The following describes what else is included under that soccer house.
The USSF is broken into four administrative councils, these being, the Youth Council, the Adult Council, the Professional Council, and the Athlete’s Council. These councils are, according to US Soccer’s By-Laws, “administrative units” with responsibilities specifically designated by that same document. The Youth and Adult councils are then broken up into National and State Associations. The Professional Council is made up of professional leagues.
The Youth Council has four members. These members are all National Associations. US Youth Soccer (USYSA) is the largest with around three million registered youth players, and 55 state associations. American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) has more than 500,000 players. Soccer Association for Youth (SAY) has more than 100,000 players. US Club Soccer is a national association dedicated to the development and support of soccer clubs.
The Adult Council has only one member. The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) is solely tasked with the administration of adult amateur soccer leagues and competitions in the United States. USASA is divided into four regions and those four regions are divided into 54 state associations. Players, teams, clubs, and leagues register through state associations. USASA manages competitions for adult players from 23 to over 70. US Adult Soccer manages the National US Amateur Cup, a competition that dates back to 1923. In addition, US Adult Soccer has member National Leagues like the USL PDL, the NPSL, and the WPSL. They also recognize 11 Elite Amateur Leagues. AYSO, MSSL, SAY, and US Club Soccer are National Affiliates of the US Adult Soccer Association.
The Professional Council’s largest league is Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS is sanctioned by US Soccer Division I outdoor professional. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is the Division I women’s professional soccer league. The North American Soccer League or NASL, founded in 2011, is a member of the Professional Council. United Soccer League (USL) is an organization of elite-level professional leagues and is a member of the Professional Council.
The Athlete’s Council represents the Athletes of the Federation. US Soccer defines “athlete” according to the definition given in the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, “an athlete who meets the eligibility standards established by the national governing body or paralympic sports organization for the sport in which the athlete competes.”
The US Soccer Federation is over 100 years old and today is a modern, profitable business. Soccer is still at its core and at the core of its affiliates. The councils, national associations, state associations, leagues, clubs, teams, and players are connected by the further development of the sport through one another. It is an extensive network, and it is growing.