U.S. Soccer, the sport’s governing body in the United States, will not vote to re-elect current FIFA president Sepp Blatter in the world governing body’s presidential election, which is set to take place on Friday, according U.S. Soccer president and FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati.
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Speaking to the New York Times on Thursday, less than 48 hours after arrest warrants were executed for a number of current and former FIFA officials in the corruption indictments that rocked the sports world, Gulati said he will instead instructed the American delegate to vote for Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, 39, the only remaining candidate opposite FIFA’s leading man for the last 17 years.
BREAKING: Sunil Gulati, US Soccer pres, says USA will vote for Prince Ali in #FIFA election. Canada Soccer Assoc. also supporting Prince Ali
— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) May 28, 2015
The Times story also confirms that Gulati and U.S. Soccer played a large role in launching Prince Ali’s campaign for FIFA president earlier this year.
There will almost certainly be repercussions for the U.S. federation should Gulati indeed follow through on his vow, of course. If Blatter ultimately wins re-election, which he is widely expected to do despite this week’s developments and the groundswell of support for absolute reform, he may just use his influence of power to steer any future World Cups clear of American shores. Gulati isn’t fazed by the prospect of “retaliation” from Blatter, citing a need for “better governance” as a higher priority.
“Would I like to see the United States host a World Cup in the future? The answer is, of course, yes. But for me, and for U.S. soccer, better governance and more integrity at Concacaf and FIFA are far more important than hosting any international soccer tournament.”
“Being on the wrong side of an election result – if that’s what happens – is not necessarily being on the wrong side. If you are serious about change, you have to be willing to push for it.”
Gulati also says that the Canadian soccer federation will back the U.S.’s play and join them in voting voting for Prince Ali.
As for upcoming tournaments involving CONCACAF teams schedule to be played in the United States, Gulati says this summer’s Gold Cup will go on as previously scheduled, but sounded significantly less confident that next summer’s Copa America Centenario, the 100-year iteration of the competition, will go ahead as planned.
Sunil Gulati: “Premature” to say if 2016 Copa América Centenario will end up happening in the US. Massive bribes charged by DOJ with event.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) May 28, 2015
Soccer will drastically change over the coming weeks, months and years, though it’s almost certain that backward steps will be necessary before moving forward in a positive direction.