Gulati hopeful for a future World Cup in the U.S. and transparency in FIFA

Sunil Gulati

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Sunil Gulati is ready to hit the ground running once he starts his position as a member of the 25-person FIFA Executive Committee this May.

Speaking to reporters in a conference call on Monday, the U.S. Soccer president commented on everything from transparency in FIFA to a potential World Cup in the United States.

“We’ve (U.S. Soccer) made it clear in the past that we think hosting a World Cup in the United States would be a positive,” Gulati said. “[CONCACAF President] Jeff Webb, in his presidential comments at the congress on Friday, made it very clear that one of his top priorities and requests of Mr. Blatter and FIFA is that the 2026 World Cup come to CONCACAF.”

Gulati also confirmed that he’d be pushing for a guaranteed fourth spot for CONCACAF in upcoming World Cups, though he said that much of the possibility of that will come down to how the region’s teams play in Brazil.

“Is there a push for that? The answer is yes. We’ve made that very clear,” Gulati said. “If our teams are successful [in Brazil], that increases the likelihood of that happening.”

One interesting development is that Gulati is in favor of fully disclosing to the public what he receives from FIFA as compensation for being on the executive committee. Since all the committee members receive the same amount of money, it would shed some light into the thick fog that covers FIFA’s finances.

“The answer would be yes, with a caveat,” Gulati said. “If I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement with FIFA, that would then be difficult, but I don’t know that I’m going to be.

“I don’t know what the rules of the road are there, but in the absence of that, it’s my belief that FIFA should, in fact, disclose the compensation of directors. I would have no problem of disclosing if it’s not a violation of any provision with FIFA for directors.”

Though he had no comment to make on the resignation of Alexandra Wrage from the International Governance Committee, an organization set up by FIFA to help reform the organization, Gulati agreed that there was plenty of more work to be done.

“I think at the highest level there is a sincere effort to try to reform and change the organization,” Gulati said. “I think some of the things that happen show that clearly there needs to be a lot more done. Hopefully some of that will happen in May and hopefully a lot more will happen beyond that.”

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30 Responses to Gulati hopeful for a future World Cup in the U.S. and transparency in FIFA

  1. Jared says:

    That’s funny that he thinks there is a “sincere effort” for reform. Sepp and his boys are still in charge.

    How does he not know if there is a confidentiality agreement in place regarding compensation? Sounds like he’s setting it up so that FIFA knows to have him sign one so that he can not reveal what he claims he wants to reveal.

    • CHR says:

      He doesn’t really believe there is a “sincere effort” he’s just falling in line with FIFA. Saying things they like to hear.
      Let’s not forget who he is replacing: Chuck Blazer

  2. ChiTown says:

    Haha, that’s a good one, Sunil.

  3. Perry says:

    There’s plenty of reasons for U.S. Soccer fans to not love Sunil Gulati. But there’s one huge reason to be fine with him. He’s not Chuck Blazer. At the end of the day, he’s a good guy who wants to his country to do well. He’s not just in it to line his pockets and generally be a fat disgusting pig.

  4. Josh says:

    This article sums up my thoughts on how seriously FIFA takes their reform process. It’s from a woman on the Independent Governance Committee (established in 2011) and essentialy says all of the suggestions they have given FIFA have gone on deaf ears, and nothing is changing. Until they actually change something, hard to take them seriously.

    link to forbes.com

  5. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    Go Sunil! We may not always agree with his decisions but at the end of the day he really is a standup guy. I emailed him once and he wrote me back within a few hours. It was cool.

    • Shane says:

      Sunil, prepare to receive about 1,000 emails

    • beto says:

      +1, relatively speaking about any politician/soccer politician i think Sunil is okay and I hope he continues his work at FIFA and continues his assent into the global realm.

      i am 110% behind his efforts for transparency in FIFA, the 2026 World Cup in the USA however Concacaf does not desirve a guaranteed fourth spot! what would the point of the hex be if 66% of the teams make it to the next stage automatically? Right now 50% of the teams get an autobid and the other goes to a play off, i think we should be happy with that. but i guess if he wants to appease (and get the votes, $, etc) the panama’s, jamaica’s and costa rica’s of the region…

    • Ricardo says:

      He does that with everyone Chris. He is a politician and businessman and has no place making decisions on things that happen on the field
      I wouldn’t be suprised if he hired an inept coach who gets paid 2.5 million a year or a former World Cup start who was supposed to lay the groundwork for player development and failed.

      Oh wait….

  6. ConradB says:

    Do we have any reason to believe that Gulati is corrupt? I think the argument can be made about his incompetence (though I seem to have a much more positive view of him than many in the community), but I’ve never seen anything from him that would make me doubt what he said here.

    He may be naive, but I feel like he’s at least being honest.

    • Shane says:

      Gulati is as sharp as a tack. He certainly knew corruption was rampant in FIFA and CONCACAF, we all did. The question is whether or not he is corrupt himself. I would bet not, but was it okay that he looked the other way. It’s the old question of does the end justify the means.

      • Rory says:

        Everyone keeps saying that they have reasons not to like him then they don’t say why they don’t like him. Perhaps the handling of the Bob Bradley firing, but other than that what has the man done either positive or negative?

        • Ricardo says:

          Are you serious? His tenure has seen the worst results across the board for US National teams from the u17 on up to the full team.
          Bradley was the only one who has done anything and DON’T bring up Tab!
          The u20′s played well against Mexico but they already both qualified.
          If he gets out of the group this summer I will push for him to be the full team coach

    • Mike says:

      Gulati’s only has influence with USMNT and most things related to US Soccer, once he steps foot outside and tries to have input with FIFA or anything involving the world of soccer he has about as much influence as the posters on this board

  7. bottlcaps says:

    Don’t go for the auto 4th spot Sunil, just make sure we play Oceania for the fourth spot .Considering that Oceania’s New Zealand is FIFA ranked below all Concacaf countries in the HEX, having a home and home against NZ is pretty much easier than competing against all but the minnows. NZ is ranked below Guatemala and Cuba, so it’s even easier than a fourth spot in the HEX where you have to beat better teams to earn it. Yeah, there is the travel and yeah NZ did go to the WC last time (undefeated too, but didn’t win any either) It’s still a better deal for the fourth place HEX team. Sometimes you gotta let sleeping Dogs lie.

    • Kevin_H says:

      What would be the trade-off if we were guaranteed a 4th spot? (i.e. Which region would lose a spot, Oceania?)

      • Rory says:

        I like the World Cup having teams from all over the world. I wouldn’t mind setting up a system where the play-in match rotated between members of Concacaf, CAF, Asia, and Oceana with the contention that we sometimes automatically get the 4th nod, sometimes we get the play-in round. Frankly, it seems to me that other than Ghana it has been a long time since an African nation made some noise at the world cup.

  8. TGA says:

    Transparency in FIFA? How about some transparency in USSF, first.

    • beto says:

      if you are interested USSF puts their financial reports on their website. you can download the pdf and read up on how much they are spending and making on everything.. USSF certainly isnt perfect yet, but i would say they are fairly transparent.

  9. PD says:

    It’s the classic dilemma: do you try to change the system from within or do you stand screaming at a locked gate? FIFA will in fact get dirtier before it gets cleaner, and statements like “If I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement with FIFA, that would then be difficult.” Worry me.

    Now, if he ever gets to a place where he’s actually President of FIFA, then it’s on… provided he still has a soul by then.

    • Jared says:

      Zero chance that an American gets elected as President of FIFA in our lifetimes. The people involved at the top have too much of an ingrown distrust of Americans when it comes to running things and also assume that we don’t know the game.

  10. TD says:

    Of course there is no way to know if Gulati is corrupt, however I will give you a reason why he may be less likely to turn into a cleptocrat than Blazer or Warner:
    Blazer and Warner’s primary businesses were diverting funds from FIFA and CONCACAF to their own companies. That is how they built their empires. Gulati already has high stature in academics and in the world of sports management. He would have to want to throw his reputation down the drain in both areas. He also seems to have been obeying governance and transparency standards within USSF. If his agenda was to milk and bilk an organization, it stands to reason this would have started with USSF, since there was no guarantee he would ever become part of the ExCo. And, let’s be honest, it’s a minor miracle he navigated the CONCACAF chaebol to get the votes he did.

  11. David says:

    To say you disagree with his management decisions is one thing, but to say Gulati is corrupt is completely baseless. There has never been even an allegation of financial impropriety involving him or the USSF, which is entirely transparent with its finances (see post above). Further, Gulati is an economics professor at Columbia – one of the finest universities in the world – so it is beyond doubt that he knows that corruption chokes any economic activity and FIFA is, to a large degree, an economic actor.

    He doesn’t know if he has to sign a confidentiality agreement because he obviously hasn’t reached the stage where he is fully in his position at FIFA – is it any surprise FIFA, a corrupt institution, moves slowly on such an administrative matter??? Its also amateur-hour to suggest he should just breach the confi agrmt – that would result in him potentially being sued (would you put your own cash at risk?) and expelled from FIFA, which would be dumb especially since Gulati being involved at FIFA is the best hope there is for FIFA’s reform.

    And for those that say sit on the outside to preserve some naïve self-perception of moral rightness – you have to understand how to use the master’s tools to disassemble the master’s house… and in this case the master is Blatter

  12. SJ says:

    The fact that Gulati voted for Blatter in the last election(s), and has supported both Warner and Blazer worries me greatly. If he was naive enough to not see the issues/corruption, I’m not sure he will be able to help change FIFA. If he saw this and did nothing, he is just as guilty as they are. I’m worried he has been too much of a “company man” to bring about the change needed in both FIFA and CONCACAF.

    From the watered down implementations and resignation of members trying to institute the recommendations, FIFA seems like it just doesn’t care to change.