Sunil Gulati

Getty Images

Sunil Gulati discusses 2026 World Cup bid, next USMNT coach


Sunil Gulati may be stepping down as the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation in February, but that doesn’t mean he will not be a major player in the sport for many years to come.

Gulati, 58, has decided to not seek re-election for a fourth four-year term as the leading man for USSF, with all of his focus now switching to the bid for the 2026 World Cup to be held in the United States of America, Mexico and Canada.

As the head of that bid team, Gulati will be a busy man between now and June 12, 2018 when that decision is voted on by FIFA’s associations around the world with Morocco the only other bid in the running to host the expanded tournament.

Speaking to Richard Conway from the BBC, the 11-year leader of USSF discussed a whole host of topics but the majority of the chat was focused on succeeding in bringing the 2026 World Cup to the USA, Mexico and Canada.

“We think we have a fantastic bid. We think we can promise more economic results than anybody else in the world could. Not just for this World Cup but for the last few and the next few. That’s primarily because of the size of the U.S., Canadian and Mexican market combined and partly because of the size of the stadiums and partly because there is no need to build any infrastructure… We are hopeful, we are optimistic but we are not guaranteed anything. Morocco has made it very clear they are going to bid aggressively and we will do the same and we will go out and try to win this election every way we can, that is within the rules.”

Gulati was then asked if FIFA really needs a World Cup in North America. His response, as a professor in economics at Columbia University who has turned the USSF into a hugely profitable organization, will not surprise you.

“Clearly the economics would be very, very positive,” Gulati added. “We’ve got the ability and will make the promise that we will have the biggest World Cup, by a wide margin, in terms of economics. There’s an easy way to show that. The ’94 World Cup, which had fewer games than every subsequent World Cup, is still the largest World Cup not only in terms of average attendance but in terms of total attendance, with fewer games. This is going to be an 80-game, 48-team World Cup. I can’t think of any place better than the U.S., along with our partners in Mexico and Canada, to take on that expanded size and that challenge for FIFA.”

Still, it wasn’t all about the 2026 World Cup.

Conway also revealed that Gulati said the U.S. men’s national team “may not appoint a new head coach until after the Russia World Cup when more candidates may be free.”

Considering he will no longer have a say in that matter, at least the overriding say as USSF president, that’s quite a big statement to make.

Anyway, what lies in store for the next six months for Gulati as he aims to rubber-stamp the join 2026 World Cup bid?

“We will be on the road a lot. We will go out and convince them. The bid is due in March, the formal bid, and there will be an inspection in April. We are not overly concerned about the inspection part of it. We think we will have a great technical bid but it’s the other pieces,” Gulati explained. “It’s the 211 members who vote, four will be excluded with the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Morocco, convincing those other 207. What I will be doing between now and June 12 is making sure that 104 of them are going to vote for the U.S. We’d like a few more, just to be sure, but it will be going out to talk to people, showing them the presentation and showing them what we can do, showing them the economics and the power of a World Cup in the United States.”

Economics is never too far from the conversation.

Kathy Carter announces she will run for US Soccer president

Getty Images
1 Comment

Sunil Gulati announced on Monday that, as expected, he will not run for re-election as the President of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

And the candidates to take over his role keep arriving.

On Tuesday the President of Soccer United Marketing (SUM), Kathy Carter, took a leave of absence from the marketing arm of Major League Soccer to announce her intention to run for USSF president.

“I’m excited to announce my candidacy for President of US Soccer,” Carter said. “Soccer can, and should, become the leading sport in America, and I intend to make that vision a reality. Thrilled for you to get to know me and my vision for the game.”

Carter is the eighth candidate to announce their intention to run and the first female candidate. She joins former USMNT players Paul Caliguiri, Kyle Martino and Eric Wynalda, plus USSF vice-president Carlos Cordeiro and Steve Gans, Paul LaPointe and Michael Winograd.

The eight candidates have until Dec. 12 (next Monday) to reveal they have received at least three nominations for their candidacy from current board members, with Carter confirming she has yet to receive the three nominations.

Carter has worked closely with outgoing president Gulati (who has been in charge of USSF since 2006) as the head of SUM and she is a former vice president of MLS, as well as having 25 years of experience in brokering deals at the top level of American soccer after being on the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. She has also been involved in organizing multiple Women’s World Cup tournaments and is a huge advocate of the USWNT.

To many, Carter represents the establishment and would be a status quo option. It seems that those who want wholesale changes following the hugely successful financial era of Gulati — albeit an era coupled with a lack of success on the pitch for the USMNT — will not get it from her.

In her vision she states that she will “lead the Federation with the goal of making soccer the leading sport in America” and will strive to find “new people, ideas, and perspectives that are required to reach new levels of sporting and commercial success.”

Due to her close ties with USSF and business acumen, many believe that Carter will receive plenty of support from those who would’ve voted for the beleaguered current USSF president. Believe it or not, Gulati would have been the favorite to win the election had he run, despite being criticized heavily following the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Gulati will now focus on heading up the 2026 World Cup bid committee and his role on the FIFA Council, while the race to replace him as the head of U.S. Soccer heats up.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati will not run for reelection

Getty Images

Under-fire US Soccer president Sunil Gulati will not run for re-election during the voting process in February, he announced on Monday.

Gulati told ESPN that stepping down is “the best thing for me personally, and for the federation.” Under Gulati’s watch, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, with the final blow coming in a road loss to Trinidad & Tobago.

“Look, the general perception in the soccer community versus the people who vote in elections may be different right now,” Gulati said in the ESPN report. “But the loss to Trinidad was painful, regrettable and led to a lot of strong emotions. And to be honest, I think at this point, that’s overshadowed a lot of other things that are important. So fair or not, I accept that and think it’s time for a new person.”

The 58-year-old has been in charge of US Soccer since 2006. He served as vice-president for six years prior to his election.

The idea that Gulati may not run for re-election first surfaced in mid-October when he announced he would not resign his post at that time, but that he had not decided his intentions for the future. On Sunday, Sports Illustrated and Fox Soccer journalist Grant Wahl reported that Gulati was considering stepping down and supporting Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter in the upcoming election.

Notable candidates who have announced they will run to replace Gulati include current vice-president Carlos Cordeiro, former players and current media personalities Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino, and Boston attorney Steve Gans. Carter has not officially announced her candidacy, but did say she is considering a run, with the reported backing of both Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber. The deadline to announce one’s candidacy is December 12th, and the election is February 10th.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and talking about it with people in many different positions — many of whom told me I should run,” Gulati said. “But in the end, I think the best thing for me personally, and for the federation, is to see someone new in the job.”

Gulati will not be leaving the US Soccer landscape cold turkey. He confirmed to ESPN that he would still be heavily involved in the North America joint-bid for the 2026 World Cup. While opposition to Gulati’s tenure has been outspoken since the travesty of the latest World Cup qualifying cycle, Gulati has presided over exponential growth of the sport in the United States.

SUM president Kathy Carter close to U.S. Soccer presidency run

U.S. Soccer
Leave a comment

News has surfaced over the last 24 hours suggesting that Sunil Gulati will not run for re-election next year when his time as U.S. Soccer president is up, and now it seems almost certain that he won’t.

[ MORE: AC Milan boss Gattuso displeased with draw against bottom side Benevento ]

On Sunday, ESPN FC reported that Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter is in the final stages of putting her name in the hat to run for U.S. Soccer presidency.

Carter could make a decision on running within the “next 48 hours,” according to ESPN FC.

The report states that Carter has been urged by both Gulati and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber to run for the presidency.

“I am exploring a run for President of the United States Soccer Federation because soccer can and should become the leading sport in America, and I believe I could help make that vision a reality,” Carter told ESPN FC.

“The game of soccer has been a consistent thread through every aspect of my life. I have spent over 40 years as a player, executive and fan of the beautiful game. Going forward, our growth and advancement as a sport requires excellence at every level — from our youth and adult programs to our professional leagues and our national teams.”

Carter would replace Gulati in the field of eight candidates, should she decide to run, and she would be the only female in contention for the position.

The current SUM president has had a close relationship with MLS in the past, working with the league office previously as vice president of corporate marketing in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Report: Sunil Gulati may not run for U.S. Soccer presidency

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Cosmos

We could have a real shakeup in the U.S. Soccer presidential election, with the leading candidate in the race reportedly on the brink of stepping down.

[ MORE: AC Milan boss Gattuso likens Benevento draw to being “stabbed” ]

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl is reporting that current U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is “strongly considering not running for re-election.”

Gulati, 58, has overseen U.S. Soccer at his current capacity since 2006, when Robert Contiguglia stepped down from his position that same year.

As things stand, Gulati is one of eight candidates officially in the mix to run for the presidency in 2018, including former NBC Sports soccer analyst Kyle Martino and ex-USMNT players Eric Wynalda and Paul Caligiuri.

Wahl also notes in his Twitter post that if Gulati doesn’t run for re-election that he could potentially endorse Kathy Carter — president of Soccer United Marketing.

SUM has come into question recently as corruption allegations continue to surface pertaining to payments made to the multi-billion dollar organization. Meanwhile, NASL’s ongoing lawsuit against the USSF also directly involves SUM because of its ties to both U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer.