Sunil Gulati has confirmed that he will not seek another term as U.S. Soccer Federation president, signaling the end of his long tenure in the position.
Gulati has served as president of the federation since 2006, and was eligible to seek reelection for another term. However, ahead of February’s election, he has decided that he will not serve another term, a decision that comes after Gulati had been the subject of considerable backlash. While Gulati is being credited in some circles with presiding over a period of growth for the sport, many had been calling for a change in leadership, particularly since the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after an October qualifying game loss to Trinidad and Tobago .
That the U.S. fell short of the World Cup for the first time since 1986 led to considerable criticism, and Gulati has now decided to not seek another term as president. He does, however, have a seat on the FIFA council and is playing a major role in the ongoing effort to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America as part of a joint bid involving Canada, Mexico, and the United States. More from ESPN:
Gulati, born in India, was the subject of some racist commentary on social media but said that didn’t play a significant role in his decision. He added, however, that it added a disturbing component to an already difficult and emotional process.
“Look, the general perception in the soccer community versus the people who vote in elections may be different right now,” Gulati said, referring to the various state soccer associations and administrators who will vote in the presidential election.
“But the loss to Trinidad was painful, regrettable and led to a lot of strong emotions. And to be honest, I think at this point, that’s overshadowed a lot of other things that are important. So fair or not, I accept that and think it’s time for a new person.”
At this point, Gulati is not supporting any other candidates, he said. Whoever does fill Gulati’s position will almost surely have plenty of interaction with his or her predecessor, though: Gulati still has a seat on the powerful FIFA Council and is the chairman of the joint U.S./Canada/Mexico bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
Multiple candidates have already declared their intention to run for the seat, and Soccer United Market president Kathy Carter was recently reported to be considering her own run.
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