Sunil Gulati has been President of U.S. Soccer since 2006. Gulati was then elected to FIFA’s Executive Committee and later to the FIFA Council after Chuck Blazer was found to be corrupt. Gulati hasn’t had an opponent in any of his U.S. Soccer elections and as he tries to win his fourth and final four-year term, Gulati may have an opponent.
The Washington Post reported that Boston attorney Steven Gans is considering running against Gulati in 2018. In a volatile and evolving time in FIFA as well as U.S. Soccer, Gans may look at making a splash at the top of U.S. Soccer.
While Gulati has largely been unaffected by FIFA’s corruption scandal, Gulati hasn’t been perfect. While Jurgen Klinsmann took the brunt of the criticism of the state of U.S. Soccer over the past few years, fewer fingers were pointed at Gulati for hiring Klinsmann in the first place for such a big contract and giving him a four year extension before the 2014 World Cup even took place. Maybe more blame should have been placed on Gulati.
“What I am hearing is a lot of unhappiness and people want change,” Gans said. “I agree that change is good, not for its own sake, but especially in this case when the leadership has some question marks about it.”
“This is America, and it’s amazing to me that such a big position, no one has ever run against Sunil,” Gans said. “There needs to be a challenger. He hasn’t demonstrated such a great track record. I don’t think the direction at the pro and youth level is so great. There are a lot of disenchanted people out there.”
Gans also pointed out how Gulati and U.S. Soccer has handled the USWNT labor negotiations as well as criticized a lack of transparency and a youth soccer program that doesn’t seem to have a direction.
But while Gans is considering challenging Gulati, he’s in for an uphill battle if he decides to run. Gulati has been elected three times, is on the FIFA Council and while he hasn’t been perfect, U.S. Soccer has made more and more money under Gulati’s leadership and that may win out over anything. He has FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s ear after helping him get elected. He helped get the Copa America Centenario which was a big money maker that could be a permanent tournament. And Gulati is in line for getting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and Canada, which would probably bring in more money than U.S. Soccer has ever seen.
For those who feel like Gulati should be out as U.S. Soccer President, don’t expect him to be defeated in 2018. Best case scenario, Gans makes Gulati lay out a campaign that deals with some of the issues Gans has raised. And as for Gans, this could give be beneficial for his future. This would be Gulati’s final four-year term so if Gulati is re-elected, there would be a new U.S. Soccer President in 2022.
By running in 2018, Gans can lay out a platform and even if he were to lose, has four years to show the powers that be what he would do and that could help him if he were to run for the open position in 2022. But if that’s the plan, maybe tiptoe when it comes to criticizing Sunil Gulati or else risk not being elected. Steven Gans may want to listen to fans for advice and that’s great, but fans aren’t the ones voting at the end of the day.