Jurgen Klinsmann was U.S. Soccer's highest-paid employee in 2017
Documents released by the U.S. Soccer Federation show a healthy financial picture, but also reveal that former U.S. men's national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann remained the federation's highest-paid employee for the 2017 fiscal year, while women's national team counterpart Jill Ellis made less than a 10th of what Klinsmann made.
The USSF released its Form 990 for the 2017 fiscal year, which ran from April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017. Klinsmann was fired from his post in November 2016 after the U.S. lost its first two CONCACAF Hexagonal World Cup qualifiers, but was still paid a little over $3.3 million. His successor, Bruce Arena, made just over $400,000 after being hired.
The USSF later incurred a one-time, noncash charge of $6.2 million as a way of accounting for the buyout of the contracts for Klinsmann and his staff, but a U.S. Soccer spokesman confirmed that the charge took place after the end of the fiscal year and is not included in these documents.
Ellis' total compensation came to just over $292,000, though it's worth noting she missed out on incentives when the U.S. women were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of the 2016 Olympics. Other USSF employees making more than Ellis include CEO Dan Flynn ($832,655), CCO Jay Berhalter ($779,922) and former U.S. assistant coach Andreas Herzog ($446,885).
The discrepancy in pay for USWNT coaches and players and their male counterparts has been a sticking point in recent years, especially during negotiations last year for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the USSF. The issue was raised again during the recent election for a new USSF president.
The president and members of the board of directors are not paid by the USSF, though they are reimbursed for expenses.
The overall financial health of the USSF improved significantly during the time period in question. Net assets increased to $148 million, up from $98 million during the 2016 fiscal year. This was primarily due to revenue brought in by hosting the 2016 Copa America Centenario, which amounted to $50 million.
The USSF spokesman added that the Federation expects to receive additional revenue from the tournament during the 2018 fiscal year.
In the wake of the election for USSF president, which was won by Carlos Cordeiro, the USSF's relationship with Soccer United Marketing has come under increasing scrutiny. SUM is the marketing arm of MLS and is currently in the midst of a commercial rights deal with the USSF that lasts until 2022.
Similar to the 2016 document, a line item under "Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons" references MLS commissioner and SUM CEO Don Garber, who also sits on the USSF board of directors. What's different in the 2017 document is a footnote indicating that the figure listed -- in this case $26.25 million -- indicates a payment from SUM to the USSF.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.