Gulati against bidding for 2026 World Cup unless FIFA rules are “clearer and tighter”

Sunil Gulati

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

In the wake of the failed bid for the 2022 World Cup that Qatar won in the final round of voting, 14-8, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati has made it clear that unless FIFA changes their rules, he’s not interested in bidding for World Cup 2026.

Gulati, a new member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, has revealed in an interview with Inside World Football that he feels that there isn’t enough transparency within the bidding process and that until the rules become “clearer and tighter,” he won’t entertain a future bid for the World Cup.

“The procedures would need to be very different to what they are now,” Gulati said, in response to if he would bid for the 2026 World Cup. “If the critical issue is new lands (getting the World Cup), then [FIFA should] tell us in advance because we won’t bother.

“The rules need to be clearer and tighter. And the process needs to be better. If you are stepping on to a field of play, you know what the rules are. We’d want more clarity on the bidding and the whole process. For instance, is there going to be a system of rotation, or not? This needs to be established well enough in advance so people know.

“Also, my personal view is that it should also be a public vote (instead of secret). And the technical report should matter in some concrete way, otherwise it’s an unnecessary expenditure on funds and time.”

Ever since that fateful vote in December 2010, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been surrounded in controversy, from alleged bribes to buy votes, to moving the tournament to the winter due to the heat despite FIFA President Sepp Blatter stating in October 2012 that the tournament would take place in June and July.

Blatter has insisted that despite all the negativity, the World Cup will stay in Qatar. However, they seem to have realized that the recent voting process was a mistake and now the World Cup vote will be taken on by the entire body of FIFA, all 209 members.

And to his credit, Gulati was one of a few loud voices in the past week calling for FIFA and Blatter not to hastily make a decision on moving the World Cup in Qatar to the winter months without discussing the matter beforehand. Last Friday, FIFA announced the creation of a task force that will determine when will be the best time to host that World Cup after speaking with all their constituents.

“FIFA made the right decision to take its time,” Gulati said. “Over the next six or 12 months, maybe over the next 18, FIFA will talk to all the stakeholders and come up with the best decision.

“Quite frankly I don’t understand what the rush was all about in the first place. The tournament is still nine years away. It’s a hugely important decision in terms of the impact it will have on the international calendar. To not have a thoroughly vetted study would be foolhardy.”

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79 Responses to Gulati against bidding for 2026 World Cup unless FIFA rules are “clearer and tighter”

  1. wood chip zip says:

    Gulati Translation = US Soccer wasted millions on our 2022 bid and unless the process becomes more than a jet-setting boondoggle for FIFA execs to line their pockets over a process that is poorly thought out, you can take your World Cup and shove it.

  2. k says:

    nations that should be up to host the 2026/2030 WORLD CUPS

    – England, USA, Uruguay, China, Australia

    we have the odds on our side for hosting either 1

    • James says:

      Not sure we’re the odds on favorite. I think it’s safe to assume that 2030 will be in Europe, unless, as Gulati suggests, there is a clear rotational pattern set, aside from the current defacto rule of not going more than two cycles outside of Europe.

      So that really only leaves 2026 open. Despite advancing further in the bidding process than them this round, Australia has a strong case – never hosted it, growing domestic league, modern infrastructure, smaller area between host cities. They can’t boast the attendance the US could, and time zones may be against them, but I think they have a case over the US.

    • wfrw07 says:

      2030 will be in South America for the 100th anniversary. It won’t be in Asia or Europe since they hosted the last two.

      That leaves North America and Africa. I’m guessing it won’t be Africa. That pretty much leaves us, Mexico, and Canada.

  3. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Gulati calls em out. Anyone else have the balls ?

  4. HoboMike says:

    He’s playing the game correctly.

    That being said, there’s no way we don’t bid for either World Cup. The revenues are too great.

  5. Brain Guy says:

    For example, how about a rule that you don’t retroactively change the rules after the decision is made — as in conducting a bidding process that assumes a summertime finals and then switching it to the winter?

  6. jrxl says:

    If he wants something cleaner, tighter, and more transparent… maybe he can start with the process to decide who hosts matches for the Open Cup.

  7. blokhin says:

    China is getting the 2026 World Cup, then it will be a European non-England country with wink-wink nod nod look away tendencies, say Spain or Italy…and for 2034 it will be a distant, emerging nation of Anyonebutamericastan….

    the system is so rigged with so little chance of actual reform that I am skeptical of U.S. chances of hosting for decades… just look back and think aobut how they’ve changed the rules: “regional”-so every continent gets a turn, “oh, whoops, North America is coming up, let’s change them again” now it’s “new markets like Russia and Qatar” then it will be some other b.s…. until soccer becomes the #2 or #3 spot in the U.S. draws 40-50k crowds each game, dominates the market for wold-class talent and television revenues so much that we can strong arm FIFA into giving us a WC when we want it…. that day is too far from now

    • Travis says:

      China cant get the 2026 WC, Qatar is part of Asia and the same continent cant host back to back tournaments as far as I know.

      • AcidBurn says:

        This is FIFA, rules are meant to be broken.

        They take one look at the amount of *cough* development funds that the Chinese government can provide and the stadiums that need to be constructed, no problem with having it in Asia twice in a row.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Honestly dude we just had one in ’94 and recently hosted summer and winter olympics plus the women’s world cup. I know some of that was about 30 years ago, but you figure there are about 16 core teams that qualify just about every year and if the world cup bounced between just those countries it would fall on us every 64 years. When you factor in special locations like Qatar and South Africa (next up would be a Carribean co-bid and Australia+New Zealand) it would come to us roughly every 72 years.

      I feel that we were completely robbed by Qatar, but don’t see any reason that it should be in the US instead of Australia or Spain+Portugal.

      • James says:

        +1
        I want it here as much as the next person, but the US just isn’t that big of a victim here. Qatar getting it is a joke, yes, and US had a good bid, but what other nation is even attempting to get it twice in under 30 years? That’s only 7 cycles. We’re sounding a bit English with our entitledness.

        If FIFA’s goal the whole time was to bring the Cup somewhere new, how did Australia not even make it to the finals? They’re the ones who have a real bone to pick.

        • Increase says:

          Well it was either the US or Aussieland.

          If Australia had gotten it, I seriously doubt people would be as upset.

          • Travis says:

            I would have been happy to see Australia get it, they actually have a soccer background and are a desirable country to visit for many people. Obviously US would have been my favorite but Australia would have been good as well, although for TV viewing the times are brutal

        • Eurosnob says:

          What other nation, other than US, attempted to host the WC twice in the last 30 years? Both Japan and Korea bid to host 2022 WC even though both countries co-hosted in 2002, i.e., more recently than the US. Plus, with exception of Oceania, which did not bid, all confederations hosted WC after the WC in the US. Regarding Australia, I thought they had a good bid (never hosted the WC, good infrastructure, beautiful country, had successful Olympics), but they were also the first country to be eliminated. I would have been fine if either of US, Japan, Korea or Australia got the cup, but Qatar’s choice was simply pathetic.

      • WhiteHart says:

        Good Jeremy — I definitely understand your logic and agree that we did get to host it in ’94, so it’s not like it’s been FOREVER since we’ve hosted..

        But, the biggest reason the US should get the World Cup has to do with the infrastructure and sponsorship that is already built up. We already request the 2nd most tickets (besides the host) for the most recent World Cups, so the stadiums would be full, and our transportation network is very much already established. Any city that hosts the Cup games would have a stadium already built or being built (for NFL or another team).

        Biggest problem for Spain+Portugal is those countries are relatively broke. I do however think Australia would be a great host, and imagine they wouldn’t have to do much to get the country ready to host the event.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Japan and South Korea also bid and they just hosted in 2002. There are only so many countries that can realistically host and by 2022 it’ll be 28 years since the US had the World Cup so I don’t see anything with us hosting it. Australia would also have been a good host though.

      • che says:

        I believe this logic is faulty. I bet 10 of those core teams are all on the same continent and 2 are on another. It should alternate amongst 6 continents, or maybe five if Australia is counted in Asia

    • Marcus says:

      I’m not sure I entirely agree that the World Cup won’t come back to the US soon.

      What’s the one thing FIFA values over everything else? Money.

      In which country would the World Cup make the most money? USA.

      If the whole voting process becomes more open, in a way that makes it very difficult to influence with bribe money, then the only money to be made would be on the tournament itself…putting us in the driver’s seat.

    • AcidBurn says:

      After the Chinese build a canal through Nicaragua, why not host the 2034 WC there?
      Or how about Turkmenistan or Tajikistan?

    • Dimidri says:

      I know you were being tongue in cheek, but a joint Uruguay-Argentina bid to commemorate the centennial is likely to win in 2030. So if not 2026 probably not until 2034.

      • blokhin says:

        but then (Western) Europe would have been without a World Cup for 28 years so it’ll be their turn in 2034… then Mexico without one for a half a century in 2038 or a Carribean one with a game per island- then peace in the middle east, a joint Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan World Cup in 2042… then it’s sub-saharan Africa, or dear, old England…

  8. k says:

    USA USA USA. or China or Australia if you ask me. either of those 3

    • Naugles says:

      I’d be fine if it was held in Germany permanently. They have the stadia, and the proximity between them is so close it makes seeing a variety of games extremely easy, riding clean trains that run on time. It’s ideal.

      It would also be the….wait for it…GreEEEEENest option. And anybody who disagrees is a carbon-loving, planet murderer.

      But then how do the bribes and kick-back work?

  9. Good Jeremy says:

    Aside from the bribery, trying to switch the World Cup to winter, the slave labor to build non-existent infrastructure…
    Does anyone remember the claim that all of the new stadiums will be disassembled and rebuilt in African countries after the World Cup? I can’t imagine sitting in the boardroom and not bursting into laughter when they presented that.

    • AcidBurn says:

      But wait, will the air conditioning super clouds (or giant floating ipads if you prefer) also be dismantled and shipped to Africa? har har har.

      But wait…IF they can get the stadiums dismantled and shipped to Africa, who bets that half the stadiums get intercepted by pirates on the way there and stripped for parts and the other half fall down after 5 years because the African countries can’t afford the millions needed to run said fancy stadiums each year.

  10. Diego says:

    Sour loser

  11. AcidBurn says:

    Good. Gulati needs to stand up more and put his foot down, and he is politically savvy enough to know how to do it. He also is showing the leverage that he has: forget about an (insanely profitable and revenue making) here until you clean things up. Some nice jabs there about the report being useless and the WC criteria being about going to new lands.

    • SPB says:

      So, FIFA should do what the US wants because of the money we bring but giving the WC to Qatar because of money is wrong? Last I checked their dollars are just as green.
      You need to understand that FIFA, as an organization, will get its money regardless of whether the WC is held in the US or the moon.

      • Judging Amy says:

        Do you honestly not see the difference b/t bribes and profit through revenue generation?

      • Acebojangles says:

        The World Cup in the US was the best attended in history, despite the expansion from 24 to 32 teams in 1998. The US has a ton of excellent, large stadiums available and is a desirable tourist destination for people the world over. I think that’s what AcidBurn was referring to. I see legitimate profitability for FIFA differently than bribes for some members of a committee.

        • SPB says:

          Except that if I’m a UEFA or CONMEBOL representative my job is not to do what’s best for FIFA. My job is to do what’s best for MY associations which means bringing the WC to our continent…or some tangible benefits to our region.
          Americans think that the only thing that matters with football is money. Maybe for FIFA but for the individual associations bringing the WC to their countries is their reason for existing.
          Like I said, FIFA will get their money regardless.

        • AcidBurn says:

          Yup, a WC in the US would bring in record revenue (from both ticket sales and sponsorships), which FIFA can’t ignore. It’s legitimate profit that would then pay out to ALL member countries in terms of development funds, etc.

          Of course, if you are Nicolas Leoz, you’re worried about how it benefits my association, cough, sorry, spoke wrong, I believe his reaction is more “Eff you. Pay me, and can I get knighted too?”

      • SPB says:

        …..and if you’re Brazil Spain, Germany, Uruguay etc …..you don’t want development funds. You’re already developing enough players without them.
        What you want is the World Cup at home and the increased chances of winning it that comes with hosting the tournament.

        • Ross says:

          There are only so many countries that have the capability of holding a WC. No matter how much money Quatar has it could still very well be a disaster. Their whole bid was theoretical.
          It takes more then money to put on a WC. It takes infrastructure, logistics, political stability, etc.
          The U.S. has basically everythig in place to hold such a major event. Plus there are imigrants from every country here. Every game would be well attended in stadiums that no other country can compete with.
          Plus the money is here. Corporate sponsors and the people.

          FIFA is better off having the WC in this country on a regular basis. It’s guaranteed to be profitable and to have record breaking attendance.

  12. Brad says:

    I think the plan should be pretty clear at this point. Just don’t lose the bribing war.

  13. k says:

    so how many teams in MLS? NYC2. Orlando seems to be the next after that. That gives 3 more spots. Beckham sure wants Miami to be 1 of the clubs as well. I’d throw in St, Louis. Loads of possibilities with them and choose between Atlanta or San Antonio or Phoenix for the 24th MLS club and close it there and strengthen the league and strengthen the 2nd division.

  14. salamander says:

    A 24 team MLS division followed by a 12-16 team proper 2nd division. That’s what I’m hoping for by 2020. Make the minimum pay $75-100,000. Allow more loans from Europe and South American clubs

    • drew11 says:

      24 teams = 21 US based teams in MLS. In a country of 300 million. Not going to happen.

      • MetroChris says:

        that’s what the second division is for…

        • salamander says:

          exactly. 24 in MLS, 16 in 2nd division. Have a proper 2 division professional league in this country with the 3rd division being semi-pro and borrowing players from college and youth academies.

      • salamander says:

        sure it will. we have 30/32 teams in other sports. MLS isn’t as popular as NHL or NBA or MLB but we can carve a nice niche while the sport and league continues to grow. No need to over stretch ourselves with 4-6 too many teams.

    • todd says:

      isn’t the current league minimum salary 35,125? with 19 teams? Expansion will bring more games and more revenue but not that much. I see the league minimum being raised to only $50,000 in the next couple years after the addition of Orlando City.

      I also would like to see a promotion-relegation system in the US but I don’t see that happening by 2020. 2040 is a better estimate: it’s such a foreign concept to American audiences that we need to keep growing a groundswell of support for it by showing foreign leagues on tv and talking about foreign leagues regularly in the sports media.

      • Ross says:

        Relegation will never happen. You are asking the owners to pony up tens of millions of dollars, if not more, with the chance their team gets sent to the minor leagues. None of them would ever agree to that. Why would they? Would you?

  15. PD says:

    for as much flak as Gulati get from the like of bloggers like us, this is a time where we have to give credit where it’s due. He’s clear without sounding whiny and he’s diplomatic without sounding spineless. Great great way to express the point of view of not a just a few disgruntled bidders.

  16. Brett says:

    I wonder sometimes if it is more naive to try and change the process than it is to work within it. Corruption will exist as long as men are corrupt; it won’t matter how transparent the process appears or how severe the punishments become.

    More voters is a step in the right direction. You have to make it financially fruitless to bribe at all and the only way to do that is to thin the waters.

  17. salamander says:

    2026 goes to Australia or the USA
    2030 goes to Argentina/Uruguay
    2034 goes to England
    2038 goes to China

    solved :D

    • asoccerroo says:

      You might need to fil some of this around. Europe will not go four cycles without hosting the World cup. They may not even go three.

  18. beto says:

    good statement by Sunil. Glad to see we are not going to be wasting too much more money trying to appease the crooks in fifa.

    currently we are the back up plan in case any WC falls apart **cough** qatar **cough**.. fifa likes to keep us, and other developed nations as back ups that continue to bid and give them money. if they need us we are here if and if they don’t need us they can continue to use our money staging tournaments in “new lands”.. well F that! let us know when we can legitimately bid and we will stage a great WC. I am confident that it will happen sometime in my lifetime and im in no rush to kiss up to fifa crooks..

  19. milkshake of despair says:

    Regarding a US bid, one thing many people forget is the size of our country has a big impact on travel. Teams, journalists and tourists prefer a home base. That system doesn’t really work here so well. There’s constant switching hotels and most travel is by airplane, so the costs add up. Not to mention the time involved packing, airport security, delays, etc (i.e. impacts team’s training routines). Then there are time zone changes to deal with.

    From what I’ve read this was a big issue in 94 that many people were not happy with. Admittedly it worked and people adapted.

    I want it hear as much as the next fan, but it’s a real issue. The only way to solve it would be a regional WC, which is more than achievable.

    • Umlaut says:

      But it would work for the same reason so many teams come here to play friendlies against other teams (as in, not the US). As the soccer brand grows in America, everyone wins financially. 94′ got things rolling, and another tourney where the USMNT is competitive would only help to spread the sport.

    • Madaoua05 says:

      The WC has been held in countries that certainly required movement by teams, journalists, and fans between different venues — Germany and South Africa.

      The WC has also been held in two distinct countries separated by a body of water — Japan and South Korea.

      So the idea that the size of the U.S. is somehow a hindrance to our bid makes absolutely no sense to me.

    • THomas says:

      Comparatively, travel is easy in this country. Brazil is a HUGE country, and travel infrastructure is nowhere near what it is in the US. So that’s not a good excuse.

    • wandmdave says:

      I’d say Brazil has exactly the same issue but with infrastructure issues thrown in as well.

  20. af if u ask me/us says:

    could relegation work in the USA in say 30-40 years? by the MLS could arguably be 1 of the best leagues on the planet and our 2nd division could be pretty damn good too

  21. BBB says:

    FIFA needs to just publish their bribe card, so every country knows what a ‘yes’ votes costs. We demand transparent corruption!

  22. USfan123 says:

    FIFA is a crime organization period. FIFA is only getting better as Blatter and his crime team disappear. Do not waste time to discuss those ugly Pigs

  23. Umlaut says:

    What’s that behind him? A dream catcher?

  24. wandmdave says:

    Was this article changed? Why are there so many comments about pro/rel in the US?