April 16, 2018 ​​
Regardless of socioeconomic discrepancies the cost of soccer coaching education courses in the US are the same for everyone. Expensive! At the Annual General Membership meeting in Orlando in February newly appointed US President Carlos Cordeiro made it a point in his acceptance speech to address the high cost of coaching education courses while setting US Soccer on a course to increase its budget $400-$500 million a year to compete with the Football Association of England and the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Although US Soccer has major corporate sponsors, it pales in comparison to England or Spanish sponsors since soccer in the US doesn’t have the same interest as Europe where stadiums can fill upward of 90,000 people on any given weekend for a league match or national team game. So without more major sponsors willing to pay top value to sponsor the leagues, and 90,000 in attendance every Wednesday or Saturday for an MLS game, there is no way that US Soccer can afford to lower its coaching education costs. To reach annual budgets similar to federations in major soccer countries in Europe, the US will need every penny and more.

According to US Soccer’s 2017 990 Form, the organization’s coaching education revenues totaled $3.8 million annually. If Cordeiro, a former Goldman Sachs executive with a strong financial background plans to increase US Soccer’s budget, then he will also have to increase coaching education revenue meaning either he will lower costs to attract more coaches to pursue their A and B licenses or he will have to continue to increase education costs to meet his budget goals.  ​

According to statistics provided to the BSMA by US Soccer, 3,000 coaches have completed the “A” license course (a split between the Professional and Youth License), while 5,500 coaches have completed the “B” License course. The “F” course which launched in 2015, have licensed a total of 60,000 coaches to date. Currently, there are 15 million soccer players in the country, so the player to  A License coach ratio is 5000:1, B License 2,727:1, and F License 250:1.

Statistics prove that this is a problem and that players are not receiving the best player development opportunities. If licensing courses are geared to teaching development, then there are not enough developers.

US Soccer is not the only way that a coach can retain a coaching license. US Club Soccer offers a La Liga sponsored methodology course, the United Soccer Coaches offers its diploma courses, and US Youth Soccer offers certificates as well.

Under former President Sunil Gulati, US Soccer rolled out a new initiative called the Grassroots Pathway Coaching Initiative. The purpose of the initiative was to restructure the foundation of its coaching pathway. After completing the free course, “Introduction to Grassroots Coaching Module”, coaches who are new to soccer can then begin to gradually pay the exorbitant fees that come with USSF licenses totaling $8,500 from licenses F > A not including the cost of accommodations and the missed time from work whether a full-time or part-time coach.​​

A License – $4,000

B License – $3,000

C License – $750

D License – $250

E License – $125

F License – $25

Total – $8,500

The influx of English coaches who came to the US in the 1990s, also brought about the increase of coaching education cost. The English FA UEFA “A” course costs roughly $6,200 as a member and $8,200 as a non-member.

In Germany, Italy, France and Spain the cost for UEFA Licenses courses are much lower. The cost is less than $600 and as of 2016, there were 6,934 UEFA “A” Licensed coaches in Germany, Italy 2,281, France 3,308, and in Spain an amazing 15,423.

It is clear that the US has emulated England in the cost of coaching education and as a capitalist nation this should be of no surprise. Soccer too has become capitalistic and a game of the haves and have-nots. It is also clear that US Soccer has no interest in educating its minority coaches and those coaches with economic disadvantages who can’t afford the cost of licensing otherwise there would be grants dedicated to minorities.

Despite the high cost in coaching education in England, the UK has made steps to invest in its minority coaches. In 2016, the UK invested an additional $2 million in grants to award black and minority ethnic communities (BAME) coaches the opportunity to attain UEFA “A”, “B”, Pro Licenses, and Youth Advanced licenses by covering 80-90% of their costs. The program benefited many including former QPR Rangers boss Chris Ramsey as well as former Hudderfield boss Chris Powell who now coaches at Southend in England’s League 1.

As of 2016, 168 BAME coaches had received 228 grants of which 26 attained UEFA “A” Licenses, 66 attained UEFA “B” Licenses, and 136 received Youth Award Modules.​

American International College assistant coach Julian Myers, a native of England has been a beneficiary of grant programs like BAME, and in the US “I believe there should be some minority grants and scholarships which offer and open the door to more minorities to aid getting their licenses. Helping to encourage and promote minorities to get higher qualifications at the cost of coaching certifications right now are ridiculous,” says Myers.

Germany has 6 million players registered, a little over half the number of US players registered, yet, two times as many UEFA “A” License coaches. It is no coincidence that Germany has multiple divisions of promotion-relegation and has been one of the best international programs at both the men’s and women’s. Both Spain and Germany have the highest percentage of upper level head coaches around the world as their courses continue to be among the least expensive.

If the US wants to compete with the best programs in the world, then they must make coaching education affordable and easily accessible while maintaining quality. Often time coaches must leave their states and wait for months to take the class of their choice.  The US can’t afford to price coaches out of the market especially in a time when the US Men’s team did not qualify for the World Cup. Coaches need development, players need development, and as a country we must narrow the “A” License coach to player ratio and decrease cost. Just not sure it will happen with Cordeiro’s plan to increase the annual budget.

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