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Kyle Martino Spells Out His Vision For a U.S. Soccer Presidency

Kyle Martino joins Grant Wahl to discuss in depth what he thinks needs fixing in U.S. Soccer and how he plans to do it, if elected president of the federation.

The new Planet Fútbol podcast interview is with Kyle Martino as part of our ongoing series with all the official candidates for U.S. Soccer president. 

The election process will start to pick up steam soon, with U.S. Soccer revealing Wednesday that eight out of the nine people intending to run for president received the necessary nominations to enter the campaign. Once the required background checks have been completed, it will release the final list of candidates who will vie for election on Feb. 10 in Orlando, Florida, at U.S. Soccer's annual general meeting.

(For more election coverage listen to our previous podcast interviews with some of the other candidates here: Eric Wynalda | Kathy Carter. You can subscribe and download every episode of the Planet Fútbol podcast on iTunes here.)

Here are some of the standout quotes from the interview with Martino:

Planet Fútbol: Why do you think you are qualified to be U.S. Soccer president?

Martino: That’s the most important question, I think. What’s happening right now is a concentration a little bit too much on who as opposed to what we need. I think you answer the who after we determine what we need moving forward. And what we need is someone with a soccer vision. We’re coming out of an era with a president who I think deserves credit for growing the game in many ways. The area he can most talk about and brag about is on the business side.

Sunil Gulati is a very smart man who took U.S. Soccer over in a time when there wasn’t a big surplus and they needed to grow the commercial side of the business and grow the budget, and he did that. He did that over his tenure. I believe it doubled in an eight-year time period. So he can, together with [U.S. Soccer CEO] Dan Flynn, who’s very much a part of that as well, brag about the profit side of the business. Where he can’t brag, after missing out on the first World Cup for the men since 1986, is on the soccer side.

So why am I qualified? I’m the soccer answer. And U.S. Soccer is a business. Absolutely. I’m going to have to spend this entire campaign helping people see why I’m a good business answer, and why I can help solve those problems. But what’s most important is solving the soccer product of the business, and that’s where we’re struggling. The progress has definitely been outpaced by the profit.

I look at a $150 million surplus, if that’s the number that most are reporting it’s around, I see opportunity. I see salary for youth coaches. I see getting the badges to becoming a coach subsidized and not being so expensive. I see a way to subsidize the youth game and get more people involved. I want to be U.S. Soccer president because I never dreamed of this job. I had my dream job, and I’m willing to walk away from it because my dream has always been to see soccer in this country as big and as loved as it is around the world.

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Planet Fútbol: What is your idea for soccer side of things in terms of: Would you like to have a general manager for soccer? A soccer czar? A technical committee? And how does this play into how you would want to hire national team coaches, like a process?

Martino: Why don’t we start with that last one? I think that’s the least important, because people feel we have a U.S. men’s national team problem. And we don’t. That’s a symptom of our problem. We have a youth soccer problem. We have a growing-the-game problem. And to solve those, you’re naive to think it’s going to be one person. This is not a person-for-a-person solution. There is no one person in this country, by the way, who can come in and stand in that role and single-handedly solve what’s going on. How I look at the presidency is as a soccer visionary who empowers the experts to finally make the soccer decisions.

You can listen to the full interview in the podcast console above.