Gulati denies report that FIFA urged U.S. Soccer to prepare for 2022 World Cup

World Cup trophy

By CAITLIN MURRAY

Could FIFA be buckling under the pressure to strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup? For now, maybe not.

But in light of all the problems facing Qatar’s bid to host — from bribery on a massive scale to unbearable summer temperatures to human rights concerns — the pressure to reconsider Qatar as 2022 World Cup host seems to be mounting.

In a Spanish-language tweet Thursday, ESPN writer Jorge Ramos reported FIFA had asked U.S. Soccer to prepare its organizing committee for the possibility that the 2022 World Cup will not be held in Qatar. The tweet implied the decision would come in September or October.

But U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati was reportedly surprised by the news and was swift in refuting the initial claim, New York Times reporter Sam Borden tweeted after speaking to Gulati.

“Sunil Gulati, flatly denied FIFA has approached them re: ’22 WC. ‘They haven’t asked us and I cannot imagine it happening anytime soon,'” Borden tweeted.

Without explanation, Ramos later deleted his tweet, which read: “ALERTA: #FIFA llamo a #USA para que tenga listo un comite organizador para el 2022. No habria #Mundial en #Qatar. Se decide en Sept u Oct.”

Still, it is clear FIFA will not have an easy time brushing off growing calls for Qatar to be voided as host of the 2022 World Cup.

While the initial choice to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup was met with suspicion, a report from The Sunday Times earlier this month seemed to blow the issue open. The blockbuster report alleged that FIFA Executive Committee Member Mohamed Bin Hammam had poured $5 million in bribes to secure secret votes to award the World Cup to Qatar, calling into question the legitimacy of the entire process that resulted in a World Cup for the small Middle Eastern nation.

Of course, Qatar had already been dogged with accusations of employing “modern-day slavery” for its World Cup building projects. Hosting the World Cup in summer as usual seemed increasingly impossible with Qatar’s 120-degree temperatures, too.

For their part, Qatari officials have been steadfast in denying a re-vote is possible, even as an investigation from FIFA into the 2022 bidding process will not be released until July.

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What do you think of this development? Could it signal FIFA will act in the future? Or will Qatar get to hold onto the 2022 World Cup, as they expect?

Share your thoughts below.

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69 Responses to Gulati denies report that FIFA urged U.S. Soccer to prepare for 2022 World Cup

  1. Noah says:

    Gulati also denied the Copa America was happening before it happened.

  2. Wood Chip Zip says:

    Would love it to be in the US but only if Landon Donovan gets to play

    • blokhin says:

      no, because I want JK to coach that team, since he’s so awesome and is totally turning around the US program to play attractive, attacking soccer and who knows by then, maybe USMNT will field players worthy enough for JK to coach further in the WC than Bradley, Arena and Bora had taken them. On the other hand, if the players are better, than someone else could take them further too

      • Landy Cakes says:

        Screw playing attractive soccer, Klinsman is playing winning soccer.

        We’re gonna shock the world baby!

      • Artie says:

        Man, I run headfirst into Poe’s Law all the time in the comments section of this site. Is this satire? Is this serious? I have no freaking idea.

        I know there are many people who do think exactly this about JK, and there are many people who think this is the most ridiculous idea they’ve ever heard. Which is it?

      • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

        blokhin (et al), you can flame me all you want but Klinsmann will be gone after the U.S. loses to Germany.

        • wandmdave says:

          This is not meant to be a flame but I couldn’t disagree more with you. I happen to like JK but even if I hated his guts its obvious the USSF is 100% behind him. Simply loosing to Germany, which is much more likely to happen than not regardless of who was selected to play for us or who is coaching, is not going to be enough reason to can him.

    • Don't Tread says:

      You realize that in 2022 Landon Donovan will be in his 40’s, right? We’re not talking about someone like Romario or Brett Farve who seem to never retire. If Donovan is aging this much now then it’s absolutely absurd to think of him playing in 2022. Your ignorance and blind dedication to one player, instead of the whole team, is baffling.

  3. AJH says:

    Gulati just playing it close to the chest. I’d be shocked if there isn’t a re vote the way this is picking up steam.

    • jmadsen says:

      ditto.

      although with money and politics being what they are, won’t go out on a limb and say anything will happen. but there will be a lot of serious discussion on it, IMHO

      • Felix says:

        I agree with your cynicism – but at the same time, now with pressure from the sponsors and law enforcement beginning to get involved – FIFA will hopefully realize that the corruption went too far this time and will reverse a disastrous decision.

  4. Mason says:

    In a strange way, official denials are progress.

  5. Northzax says:

    No way. The us will not humiliate one of the few counties in the Middle East that tolerates us. (And make no mistake, the country that takes 2022 earns the anger of every gulf state) same reason the rumors of the 2016 Olympics going back to London will never happen. Geopolitics trumps this.

    • Chris says:

      We would be “taking” nothing. FIFA would be taking it from them and handing it to us.

    • Chris says:

      And I don’t give two craps if Qatar hates us anyway.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        I think Northzax was (rightly) referring to US leaders who would be involved in making the decision, not you.

        • wandmdave says:

          US leaders have no say in who FIFA gives the bid to. I’m not even sure they could legally deny the USSF the right to make a bid.

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            FIFA requires a formal commitment from the host nation’s government. Just ask Indonesia.

      • KGB says:

        Why do I feel like if we somehow win this bid from Qatar, we’ll be paying $6 for a gallon of gas shortly therafter?

        *shops for electric car*

    • JH says:

      Interesting point. I think that might have an effect, but what could trump that is that few other countries can guarantee last minute infrastructure, break attendence records and make more money than the USA. We are heavy favorites if they make a switch. That said, 2022 is still a long way away, they could still do a revote and give it to Australia.

    • JoeW says:

      Sad but oh so true. I’d love for the WC to be in the US. But I’m going to be shocked to see that happen. For starters, wasn’t the US the first country eliminated in the voting? For another, Qatar wouldn’t phrase it as FIFA took the games away. It was US pressure and being a bad sport that led to pressure on FIFA so they gave in. And yeah, with so many arab states in tremendous instability at the moment, it’s naive to believe that geopolitics and diplomatic relations isn’t a factor in this.

      FIFA screwed the pooch on this one and there’s no way to “make it right.” It’s only about attempting to minimize the damage.

      • Eric says:

        Actually, in four rounds of voting, Australia was eliminated first, Japan second, South Korea third, and the US fourth after going head-to-head vs. Qatar.

        Also, the US government has no direct role in US Soccer or its World Cup bidding committee, so while they could express an opinion, they couldn’t prevent US Soccer from agreeing to host in 2022.

        • SwerveZ says:

          US would take the WC because they came in second in the voting AND it would quiet critics. FIFA needs an “easy” host right now…

        • MidWest Ref says:

          Please recall that the USSF host bid is hampered by the over the top requests for FIFA for exemptions from laws such as taxes on income, discrimination and immigration and/or visitation of its executives and boards.

          Brazil changed a law about drinking in its stadia on game days that had been on the books for many years for the protection of fans because of pressure from FIFA.

          • wandmdave says:

            were those requests made in 1994? Granted our political gridlock is higher now but I still dont see the US gov/public accepting that.

  6. NASLatlanta says:

    4,000 indentured servants estimated to die in building of Quatari stadiums and World Cup infrastructure by 2022. I can’t believe they haven’t taken a revote already…

  7. Chicago Josh says:

    Give it to the Aussies. Anywhere but Qatar.

    • Wood Chip Zip says:

      This is the obvious answer, but we can’t expect logic and fairness to play a part

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      This is the best course, imo.

    • Umlaut says:

      I like that idea a lot in every respect but the time zones…

      (Maybe I’d just have to make the trip!)

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        It’s easier to go to work with no sleep than to try to watch a game while at work.
        :)

    • EspinDOHla says:

      Yep.

      Australia was in the final vote as well right?

      They have a new-ish soccer league, have never hosted, and most importantly have the infrastructure to support the games. It seems like this would be the logical choice.

      Don’t get me wrong, I want the US to host but giving it to Australia but be the logical answer to the current mess.

      • Oranje Mike says:

        We came in second place in the voting while Australia was eliminated after the first round of voting. We would be the logical successor unless a re-vote is held.

        • Wood Chip Zip says:

          Yes, Australia was eliminated early in the voting, but Chuck Blazer’s influence undoubtedly played a part in the votes that went to the US.

    • KGB says:

      +1. I personally would enjoy having the WC on US soil, but any of the other bidders would make more sense as host than Qatar.

      If they really are considering a switch I hope that they put a hard stop on construction, because the loss of so many lives in Qatar already is astonishing.

    • JayAre says:

      Give it to Australia just sounds like a good thing to say but it wouldn’t be a wise choice at all. The Aussies bid included 5 stadiums that need major upgrade, one that needs minor upgrades and 3 brand new stadiums. At this point FIFA doesn’t need all that pressure on them especially after Brazil. South Korea would also have to build a few new stadiums or expand a few existing one and Japans bid included 6 stadium with running tracks and not of them come even close to the capacity of the US. Which make Qatar’s victory a little more baffling. They have nothing on ground at all!!! It might seem like we feel entitled in the US but our bid is the safest and by far the most profitable bid. We could literally wait till January of 2022 to begin getting ready and that would just be switching out the turf in a lot of the stadiums for real grass. The transportation system in every city on our bid is sound, our airports are all go and we don’t really need test matches because the NFL does it for us.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        I don’t think that hurts the Aussie bid as much as you think it does.

        First, two of those major upgrades are happening anyway.

        Second, Australia actually uses large stadia and would continue to see these new/improved one used. No ghost stadiums. (Nor ghost hotels, etc.)

        Third, their bid included 12 stadia, but we’ve all seen how easily FIFA can accept as few as 8 (cough! Qatar). South Africa used 9, France used 10.

        “It might seem like we feel entitled in the US but our bid is the safest and by far the most profitable bid.”

        And that may actually hurt the US bid. Earlier in your comment you said, in opposition of Australia, “At this point FIFA doesn’t need all that pressure on them [from spending millions on new stadia] especially after Brazil.” Well, if it’s public perception, then how does going from one host nation where FIFA will gain gobs of cash (Qatar) to a different host nation where FIFA will still gain gobs of cash (USA) help FIFA’s image? They make out like bandits either way.

        Go to Australia, on the other hand, and FIFA could be seen as “investing in and developing the game in emerging markets.”

        • Mason says:

          “Well, if it’s public perception, then how does going from one host nation where FIFA will gain gobs of cash (Qatar) to a different host nation where FIFA will still gain gobs of cash (USA) help FIFA’s image?”

          Fewer construction deaths and having almost everything above board (with no tax rebates) will help.

          Australia’s main problem is that it’s remote, and has a smaller population than Canada. I have no doubt that they could stage a successful* WCF, but I’m less certain it would be a profitable one. I don’t begrudge FIFA the opportunity to make oodles of honest money on this affair.

          *Good Parties – Good Matches.

          • JayAre says:

            +1 Right now the US is the only option that makes sense. We could host the tournament with out any logistic problems at all. Even if now one come to the US to see the tournament local Americans can sell out the tournament themselves. Australia is good but they after South Africa and Brazil FIFA really needs a country like US or Germany (only other country with sufficient infrastructure) to bring some stability back. The Aussies are a bit of an enigma like Russia. They aren’t a bad choice but their are too many unknowns with a US tournament its all on google search no surprises.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              JayAre: “Right now the US…could host the tournament with out any logistic problems at all.”

              If 2022 were tomorrow, that would be relevant. But it’s 8 years from now, and Australia has already started some of the major projects whether they host the Cup or not.

              “…after South Africa and Brazil FIFA really needs a country like US or Germany (only other country with sufficient infrastructure) to bring some stability back.”

              That country is Russia, which will happen between Brazil and 2022. And I still don’t understand what infrastructure you think Australia would be lacking.

              “The Aussies are a bit of an enigma… there are too many unknowns with a US tournament its all on google search no surprises.”

              I don’t know what you mean. Australia is at least as transparent as the USA and anyone can google the several major sporting events Australia has hosted to get a taste for how their World Cup would go.

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            Mason: I’m not arguing that Australia is better than the US in every way. I’m arguing that:

            1) Australia could host a successful Cup in terms of logistics, venues, etc. No doubt—and no big controversies (e.g., unused stadia, extravagant spending). Sydney Olympics were a renowned success.

            2) Australia could host a legally profitable Cup. Granted, independent analysis estimated that Australia (same as Qatar) would earn FIFA about half what USA would, but it would not *cost* FIFA money. It would be profitable. (This ignores potential long-term gains of increasing viewership in the South Pacific.)

            3) USA has many positives that Australia does not. Likewise, Australia has some positives that the USA does not. Since both are viable options (points 1 and 2), it’s simply a question of priorities: USA would make more money, but I believe that Australia would make more friends.

            Best outcome (imo): Australia ’22, USA ’26.

  8. Bradley's Missing Mop says:

    Even if Ramos made it up, which I think is possible, it starts the ball rolling in the direction we all hope. And for as much as I want the US to win the rights, at this point I care more about it being anywhere but in Qatar.

  9. Big Larry says:

    This was a huge mistake from the get-go. June temps. reach 130+ degrees with nighttime maybe 100. Forget about the stadiums being air conditioned what about the fans before and after the game, and those who would go to any other world cup without tickets, just to party in the squares and bars?

    Thank goodness we have this bribe thing, the 2022 world cup must be changed. The U.S. would be great.

  10. Ga1atic0 says:

    I feel the US is more than ready. We have the stadiums and the Fans. They really need to look further into this.

  11. Big Larry says:

    I would prefer the 2022 cup be in the U.S. I think it would be perfect.

    But whatever, it must be taken out of Qatar.

  12. Joe Dirt says:

    I hope FIFA postpones as long as possible. This way the oil shriek Qarais continue paying billions for their air conditioned outdoor stadiums then at the latest possible moment FIFA drops the hammer on them and moves the Cup to either Australia or the US. Hit them in the wallet, even billionaire Qataris will feel a billion in losses when thy don’t get the revenue all the tourism would bring in. Screw them hard.

    • Bradley's Missing Mop says:

      While I can go along with the sentiment here, and I would like to see the people who brought this on us penalized, I would not like to see the slave labor and deaths continue.

  13. Going to start saving my money in case the cup gets moved to the US or Australia. Wouldn’t mind another trip to down under.

  14. PD says:

    Is the idea of bringing the game to parts of ten world a good thing? Yes. Is shining a light of liberalism and equal rights for all people a noble things? Absolutely.
    Is using that grand idea as a means to line your own filthy pockets at the expense of lives of the very people you claim to be trying to better the height of rotten corruption? Yep. Protests in Brazil are legit. Silence over Russia is cowardly and deafening. Outrage over Qatar is rightfully placed. FIFA is on it’s way to a 12 year plan that takes any remaining credibility and nobility out of the sport. But they’re getting filthy rich every step of the way.

  15. bottlcaps says:

    Gulati HAS to deny, otherwise he could be in collusion with tampering. More has to be done, more reports and evidence has to be presented to the “powers-that-be” yo opem a possible revote.

    The question then becomes, Do the “tainted” voters, those who were influence unduly through cash or other benefits, get to vote again?If they do, why would they change their vote? Could FIFA preclude them from voting?

    The US would probably be the only country who could put together a World Cup on short notice. like we did in the Women’s WC after the China SARs scare.

    With this “backup” in place, it allows FIFA to go out on a limb sometimes to award countries like Qatar a World Cup.

    I think the USSF should play some hardball and force FIFA to changing some voting practices and be more transparent.But they wont. They will step in, hold the 2022 WC with much success and profit and allow the corruption especially in 3rd world countries to continue

  16. Cabrito says:

    US Soccer should tell FIFA to go eff themselves.

  17. bryan says:

    I’m with the guy above who said this denial almost strengthens the rumor.

  18. jmadsen says:

    The important thing, I think, is that it goes to a place with the existing infrastructure to host it.

    Let’s not ignore the issues & protests in Brazil right now.

    I know it is nice to move it around, but frankly, hosting the World Cup for most countries is a horrible waste of money. This idea has been discussed many times before with the Olympics, but it is time to stop diverting billions of tax dollars from more important things and putting it into seldom used infrastructure for playing games.

    Find countries that already have the stadiums and play there. US is an obvious choice, but there are plenty of others

  19. Danny says:

    Sunil will have to deal with the Klinsmann problem that’s coming after our total upcoming fail at the WC. Working on the spin for that one will occupy his time in the immediate future.

    • SwerveZ says:

      Are you serious?? Yikes.

    • Mason says:

      No. He won’t.

      He gave JK a four-and-a-half year contract six months ago. JK isn’t getting fired unless he walks onto the field during the Portugal match and pops a squat in the center circle. Maybe not even then.

  20. user222 says:

    Sunil denies everything…

    He denied talking to Peckerman to replace Arena after the WC 2006 poor showing.

    He then denied initial talks with Klinsmann..

  21. PN says:

    I sense a shift is coming.

    The IOC is now realizing the list of locations willing to meet their bidding ‘criteria’ to host the Olympics is shrinking. Both NY and Philly recently dropped out…Boston is wavering. I think they’ll pass. Billions to host a 2 week event? Only in states where corruption is a way of life and the people don;t have a voice.

    FIFA makes the IOC look like candidates for sainthood. Why should any country spend millions preparing to bid on hosting when the judging criteria is heavily skewed towards corruption? Why should England and the US even bother to bid on a future WC based on current business practices?

    If this rumor becomes true, it is only because the sponsors are threatening to turn off the $$ spigot. In that case, one would hope the US gains an upper hand, and brings some sanity to the process.

    Personally, under better circumstances, I would favor a joint WC with Canada. We offer to play a few games in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and play the US-based games in the northern cities. I recall the brutal heat the players and fans endured in 1994 from games in Dallas and LA., in many cases similar to what we will see in Brazil.

    • SwerveZ says:

      The Mid West/South/West heat in the summer is brutal. Lol, keep all the games on the East Coast! I wonder if they’d give Detroit another go?

    • Soccertes says:

      @PN – Love this idea.

    • Mason says:

      Dallas would be indoors now. Phoenix, too.

    • 407 says:

      Quite.

      I never thought I’d see the day that some other entity made Bernie Ecclestone and his Formula One Management (nevermind the IOC) appear practically virtuous.

      Don’t you get the feeling that Blatter’s FIFA is so dirty that someone like an Al Capone could look at him and say, “Dude! Geez, go to confession or something.”

  22. James H says:

    Possible advertisement for 2022 WC:

    Come to Qatar! Where drinking is illegal, women are 2nd class citizens, gays and lesbians simply don’t exist, the beaches are ‘sunny’, and you might even get to see some soccer – if you don’t dehydrate on the way to the stadiums that death built. Qatar 2022! – brought to you by FIFA and Adidas.

    Hmmm, I wonder if Adidas will really want to put their name behind that.