In a statement announcing his appointment, the Cosmos said Cantona will provide "innovative leadership" and "cutting-edge creativity" as they attempt to attract and develop players.
"The Cosmos are very strong, beautifully made, with a great past," added Cantona.
"I will do everything that I can to help us first find our way to regain the number one position in the United States and then for us to become one of the best clubs in the world over the coming years."
Another former Premier League player, Cobi Jones, who played for Coventry between 1994 and 1995, will work alongside Cantona as associate director of soccer.
Cantona announced his shock retirement 14 years ago at the age of 30, after winning five titles in six years with Manchester United and Leeds.
He was voted the Old Trafford outfit's greatest player in a poll of fans in 2000 and was briefly involved in coaching the club's young players in 2001.
Since leaving professional football he has concentrated on his acting career, appearing in Elizabeth alongside Cate Blanchett in 1998 before being directed by Ken Loach in the 2009 film Looking for Eric.
Known for his outspoken political views, Cantona recently called on the public to withdraw cash from banks in protest at their part in the global financial crisis.
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