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

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

U.S. Soccer

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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