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‘Disappointed’ Gulati backs Prince Ali in upcoming FIFA elections

SunilGulatiUSSoccer5 (Getty)

 

By RYAN TOLMICH

Sunil Gulati is adamant that change is required in FIFA, and the U.S. Soccer president believes Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein is just the man to lead the charge.

With FIFA in a state of turmoil due to the recent scandal and the ensuing arrests, Gulati told reporters Wednesday that U.S. Soccer will be voting for the challenger Prince Ali in Friday’s FIFA election in an effort to help lead the reform an organization trapped in so much recent controversy.

“The United States, and I on behalf of U.S. Soccer, nominated Prince Ali in January, and we will be voting for him tomorrow,” Gulati said on a conference call. “I’ve gotten to know Prince Ali well over the last couple of years and he is a very active member of the executive committee and an active component of reform at FIFA. His success as the president of the Jordanian FA support a number of initiatives that he’s led, whether it’s been women’s rights, youth work, development work, but it really starts with his views on government and reform.

“If you have good governance and good leadership, you make good decisions, and with good decisions, you get good outcomes, whether it’s where World Cups are played or how many teams are in World Cups. For us, this is a vote for good governance.”

The upcoming election, which Gulati says will be more competitive than many believe, comes in the wake of a period of major turmoil in the world’s soccer organization, as FIFA has been shaken up by a series and arrests and indictments of some of the game’s top leaders.

Among those hardest hit was CONCACAF, an organization that saw several members, including president Jefferey Webb, among the accused.

For the U.S. Soccer president, the two-day period leading up to Friday’s election has been a difficult one. Having seen colleagues, and friends, arrested, Gulati says that the main focus now turns towards the best interest of the region, and the world, most especially the upcoming Gold Cup and Women’s World Cup.

“It’s so quick over the last 36 hours that there are feelings, including with me, of frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness,” Gulati said. “We’ve got people that we know, families that we know, and obviously organizations that, if the allegations are true, we would be extremely disappointed in with their inappropriate behavior. It’s a mix of all of that.

“That’s really the focus short-term: gauging where things are when you’ve had this sort of shock to the system and the success of the Gold Cup,” Gulati added. “The latter is very much on schedule and the former is what’s, over the last 36 hours, occupying a lot of time and will be for the next several days and weeks.”

Gulati went on to say that discussions regarding potential marketing changes and next summer’s U.S.-hosted Copa America are premature as the allegations just begin to take shape.

As things continue to come to light, Gulati believes that changes will take place in leadership and structure in the coming weeks and months. Those changes, Gulati believes, will help FIFA move past one of the organization’s darkest times and back into a focus of what truly matters: the game on the field, not the men pulling the strings.

“Soccer has been in the front page of the news over the last 36 hours in not the way that we would have liked,” Gulati said, “but what we’re seeing right now is the worst side of the game.

“Obviously the institutions need to get a lot better,” Gulati added, “but I think the casual fan or the very average fan understands that this is the worst part of the game right now and the best is what we see on field across the country, in stadiums, in Vancouver and so on in a few weeks.”

Comments

  1. Agree with KFRZ. I am sure everyone connected with FIFA knows money is passed around for votes. Gulati has two problems in taking over action against this. First he probably has only hearsay and acting on that gets you in legal trouble. Second there is the small matter of retribution against the US Soccer which can be easily arranged by BIG BLAT.

    Common sense tells you that Gulati has to move slowly and cautiously which he clearly has done. We’ll all read the book in 10 years of what went down in this sordid affair and I would put money on it that Gulati was a big part of this FBI/DOJ action.

    Reply
    • Finally I think someone nailed it.
      This DOJ investigation didn’t happen overnight.
      I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Sunil was consulted plenty off the radar to help fill in the pieces.
      1. The original FIFA investigation came from the attorney from the US.. which was ignored
      2. Why were so many CONCACAF people indicted? Were they the only ones corrupt? Were they the only ones possibly using US based banking in their activities (hence giving the US authority to prosecute) Or is it “plausible” that Sunil knew what was happening in his backyard and helped the DOJ rather than go public and cry wolf with no legal evidence.
      3. Sunil hiring JK does NOT equal-Sunil is a crook. Just because you don’t like the guy doesn’t mean he’s either a crook or turned a blind eye. And if he did help the DOJ, we’ll never know… that’s how it works

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    • Great comments, from both Mario and Bac.

      We all know very, very little about the actual strategy and mechanics here. In all likelihood, we have seen only seen Phase I of a very long, multi-phase process that is being very consciously disguised by the important participants.

      It will play out how it does, but to assume that everybody’s cards are face-up, on the table right now is absurd. For the most part, the only guys who have been indicted are guys we already knew to be crooked (and had been punished by FIFA as such). The actual “news” here is that authorities beyond the soccer universe have taken a material interest. There’s the story.

      For now.

      Reply
  2. I don’t see anywhere that Gulati was surprised by the allegations just disappointed and saddened. The fact that he has been a proponent for reform and a change in leadership at FIFA to me shows he was aware of the problem and did not turn a blind eye. Gulati is not the problem.

    Its one thing to suspect malfeasance and its another to have direct evidence. MLS, US Soccer and FIFA are two separate and distinct organizations that collaborate but do not answer to each other.

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    • KFRZ the article has changed since the original comments which seems to often happen on this site. Before Gulati was quoted as saying surprised and hurt. I didn’t pull those words out of thin air.

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  3. Dude is such a joke. There is no way in hell he didn’t know about Blazer’s corruption and yet he decided to keep his mouth shut. He is as guilty as anybody out there for that simple reason.

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    • So someone not speaking up about something they suspect is as guilty as people actually committing the misconduct? Huh?

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      • So by this very argument, Sepp Blatter is innocent of any of the corruption that has been going on and should be re-elected for another term as president of FIFA?

        Almost everyone today agrees to a “code of ethics” of some kind, especially in the corporate or government sectors. They always contain language pertaining to “reporting questionable conduct, including conduct relating to accounting, internal accounting controls, or
        audit matters.” Gulati being an economics professor at Columbia University, I would imagine knows the “code of ethics” front and back.

        The question that we will find out in due course is, what did he do with his suspicions?

    • I agree that Gulati most likely knew of the corruption. But you have to remember that this is politics, and in politics you can’t just go out guns blazing and burning bridges. Gulati has to be particularly careful here because the arrests involved the US government, so it already gives the optics that the US is trying to strongarm FIFA and I’m sure that’s rubbing some federations the wrong way, even those that hate Blatter. So he’s walking a fine line and I think he’s saying all the right things.

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      • He should’ve gone after Blazer when he had the chance.
        If Sunil wants to claim the high ground now then he should have done something abut the corruption back then, He’s not doing that but some people here sure thing he owns it.

  4. Choice is yours. You can deny yourself the enjoyment of the beautiful game if you want. The management isnt really relevant to me. When the game starts its still 11 on 11.

    Reply
    • Vic, You hit the bulls eye with the comment regarding it’s a personal choice.

      I quit following the NHL after the last work stoppage because I was mad with the owner’s treatment of the players.

      I took off last year from the NFL because ai was upset of the Ray Rice matter on so many different levels it wasn’t funny. I didn’t watch one NFL play all season. By week three, it got so easy that I didn’t feel like I was “denying myself any enjoyment” (to use your words).

      I managed to survive just fine. Was it a bit hard at first–yep. But sometimes a person gets to the point that they just say “enough is enough” and they step away from the table.

      Sometimes you just push your chair back from the table because you’ve lost your appetite.

      I can understand where the dude is coming from. Sometimes, you’ve just had enough and you find other ways to entertain yourself.

      The love of sport and the love of product aren’t always the same.

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  5. FIFA is a joke. I stopped watching US soccer due to the manager. I stopped supporting NYRB due to their leadership’s actions. MLS lost my affection for failing to act against NYCFC’s underhanded Lampard dealings.

    I am waiting for some serious change.

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    • So if everything isn’t exactly like you think it should be, you take your ball and go home. I hope you don’t apply that to other areas of your life. Might make things tough.

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      • There’s no mandate on anyone to spectate or be a fan of any team/game. This is entertainment, right? If the guy who wrote the original post doesn’t enjoy watching USMNT or his local MLS team, why would he watch?

        Granted, there was a whiney quality to his post, but that is what it is. I used to love baseball when I was a kid. I haven’t watched a game in years. Why? Because I don’t enjoy it anymore. Have I taken my ball and gone home?

      • That’s a perfectly fine attitude, Paul. But tell me, do you comment on MLB sites, for the purpose of talking about how you “no longer follow baseball”? Because that’s what jokers like Andrew or whatever handle he happens to be using now are claiming. And it’s comedy.

        Nice “boycott” fellas. Very believable.

  6. It is hard for me to believe anyone is surprised by this. The corruption has seemed so widespread that I wonder who in the Executive Council can really vouch for reform when many of them probably knew about everything and were afraid to stand up to Blatter? Gulati seems like a good, intelligent person but to act surprised seems naive. And is Prince Ali really that different of a leader to be able to clean up FIFA?

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  7. Its shocking to me that Gulati can fein any sort of surprise and hurt over this. He is either complicit or stupid. Either way he needs to go. NOW

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    • Utterly ridiculous. Gulati has always been one of the few “good guys” in this whole sad story. More “fire everybody” ridiculousness from people who have no f*cking appreciation at all for what this man has done for soccer in this country.

      Let me know when a single shred of evidence of Gulati’s complicity in any of this turns up. I’ll be waiting. Not really, because you won’t.

      As for stupid– google the man’s resume. Let me know when you are a tenured professor of economics at an Ivy League school.

      Gulati is a smart guy and good man. Everybody he has every worked with in both academics and soccer validates this. He knows what he is doing. And when this all plays out, I’d bet you good money that US Soccer (and the global game) is WAY better off because of the actions of guys like Gulati.

      Don’t believe me? Email him yourself. His email address is very easy to find online and I can tell you from personal experience that he responds to almost every email he receives, provided it is not profane or overtly confrontational. Probably I’ve traded emails with him 5-6 times. Try it yourself.

      You’re picking on the wrong dude, brother. We are lucky to have him.

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      • I agree with Diego. Gulati’s been really good.

        If you take an objective look, Gulati’s done a TON for the growth of the game here in this country, and he’s rarely put a wrong foot forward. He’s been squeaky-clean, kept the corruption that runs rampant in most other parts of the world out of the US system, and the USWNT has been dominant and the USMNT has been consistently competitive during Gulati’s tenure. He’s not a self-promoter or empire builder and he plays well with others, but he seems to have a very organized, comprehensive vision of where he wants to go.

        We could do a WHOLE lot worse.

      • Ok Arnold. Thanks for the tip.

        Please…. tell me… what has Gulati done? Go ahead. Name one thing unethical he has done. The New York Times can’t find one. Not the WSJ. Not SBI. Not Grant Wahl.

        Not anybody.

        Actually, I’d like to see you find a single credible journalist who has even cast suspicion on Gulati. Surely, if I’m so “naive”, there must be somebody who knows what he’s “really up to”…. right?

        Go ahead…. Google all you like. All you will find is other boneheads on soccer forums speculating that somehow Sunil Gulati is a “bad guy” here.

        Or maybe it’s just you and Wood Chip Zip who know the “real truth”. Good for you guys. Tell us more sometime.

        Comments like Zip’s really chap me badly. Take a look around the world and look at the crooks and charlatans in charge of most national FA’s. It’s terrible. We are SO FORTUNATE to have somebody with real ethics and a proper sense of strategy. He’s working against a terribly evil empire and doing his best to represent us, and he has largely succeeded. His “failures” (such as missing out on the 2018/2022 WC’s) are almost universally agreed to be the product of bribery, corruption, and the exact sorts of things we are fighting AGAINST.

        So which side do you think he is on? Please… help us! we are so “naive”!!!!

      • Diego,…..it’s called turning a blind eye. The entire world new that Warner, in particular, was a crook. How is it possible that Gulati didn’t know and or didn’t have the balls to speak out all of these years?

      • Warner has been known to be a crook for years. He has been punished as such by FIFA. Gulati did not deny knowledge of this at all. Do more homework.

        Guess what? Gulati is NOT Warner’s boss…. He never has been. He cannot just fire the guy. For most of this time, Warner has actually had more power than Gulati. Considerably more.

        You folks should have more faith in this guy. He knows exactly what he is doing. He picks his battles carefully. Tell me…. what is the point of saying “Jack Warner is a crook” when FIFA has already removed him from his position for that reason years ago?

    • Exactly. Gulati, Garber, Kraft, etc. That whole cabal has been strangling the growth of the game for the last 5 years or so, solely for the purpose of lining their pockets and maintaining their monopoly.

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      • Bull.

        Some people just reflexively hate The Man. I’m as big a rebel as there is, not exactly a mouthpiece for authority. But right now the USSF and MLS seem extremely well-led.

        Gulati’s done really well by the USSF. Garber’s done REALLY well for MLS, which is going to become really apparent over the next decade as this massive, fiscally sound base he’s built – along with the world’s first parity-based soccer league, which is a REALLY new concept – starts to emerge and flex its muscle. And Bob Kraft – and another charter member of that “cabal” you mentioned was backing MLS long before it was trendy or convenient. Since then Garber’s done a pretty good job going grassroots over big-money NFL owners who want a money-making “add-value” +1 team to play in their NFL stadiums. He went with the NASL ownership group – which had the fan backing and grassroots support – of Minnesota United over the NFL group, despite the fact that he had politicians leaning all over him to favor the NFL owner. He awarded a franchise to Orlando largely because they had so much fan support, and seems to be taking a real hard look at other places that are showing that kind of fan support as well, like Sacremento and San Antonio. The one exception has been Arthur Blank – who was also in WAY before it was trendy or convenient. Arthur was always a slam-dunk to get his own franchise.

        I REALLY like the way Garber’s done things. Sometimes it’s like waiting for water to boil, but I really like the way he’s balanced bringing in big Euro names with keeping salary caps within manageable levels, and a lot of his ideas – like the very concept of the “DP”, has allowed teams that wanted to spend and bring in big names to do so (within reason), while keeping the playing field level for the smaller-market teams. Nobody else in the world has managed that and while some of MLS’s rules seem convoluted and occasionally even ridiculous, when MLS’s rising tide becomes a $30 million or $40 million salary cap – and every franchise can still afford it because of their TV deals – instead of 2-3 “world-class” mercenary teams we’re going to see 30+ really, really high-quality squads of roughly equal capability…composed largely of homegrown North American players. At which point all of Europe will be peering enviously at MLS and wondering how the heck they get there themselves.

        Speaking of Bob Kraft, he’s an NFL guy. He basically seems to have bought into MLS at his son Jonathan’s urging and gave it to his kid as a pet project…and then he kept Jonathan on a shoestring budget for years. The Revs had a rep of being “cheap” and “indifferent”…but it appears Jonathan managed to work within those constraints, found some good soccer people, and built a very good young team…and when it started winning, he managed to pry five million bucks from his dad to sign Jermaine Jones, which bumped a very good young team up into the top tier of MLS…and incidentally started filling up at least the bottom level of Gillette Stadium. The atmosphere there with the Revs is just way different than it was even 2-3 years back. Whatever, it’s very hard to argue with the job the younger Kraft has done with the Revs, who would be a pretty passable USMNT B or C team right now, with all the American talent they’ve accumulated.

      • “along with the world’s first parity-based soccer league, which is a REALLY new concept”

        quozzel, you keep saying this and it’s simply not true. Liga MX is basically a parity-based league.

      • Is Liga MX parity by design, or has it just worked out that way because some of the traditional superpowers – America and Chivas come to mind – can’t get their act together the last few years, which has sort of opened the door for an unusual and unexpected wave of parity? America’s won the title twelve times, Chivas eleven, Toluca 10, and Cruz Azul 8…but America’s been up and down like a yo-yo, and Chivas has been a train wreck lately, in no small part because they only feature Mexican players in what’s increasingly an international game.

        That’s 40 titles between just 4 clubs. Which I will admit is better than most leagues do, but it’s still VERY durn top-heavy.

      • America and Chivas are the most popular teams but that doesn’t make them dominant.

        Since 1996, when Mexico switched to the short season liguilla format 14 different teams have won championships. In fact, Chivas has only won it twice since 1996 and America only 4 times. So yes the league is designed for parity.

      • I don’t thin that Yamm singled out or hates Gulati. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that monopoly business model hampers growth. MLS is not an exception.

      • “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that monopoly business model hampers growth”

        What on earth does this even mean? Monopolies (intentionally or not) have historically been behind some of the most rapid and transformative growth on record— this holds true across numerous industries. Christ… look at the Industrial Revolution. Railroads? Airlines? Telecommunications? Were these industries “slowed” by monopoly or near-monopoly structures? Please.

        In fact, MLS is not even a monopoly. Any professional soccer player has dozens of markets to choose from if their skills merit the opportunity. Baseball, football, and basketball are far closer to monopolies in the US than MLS. Even domestically, MLS has far more competition than the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc….

        Defend this position. At all. Please.

    • I cant figure out which side to take.

      An informed opinion

      OR

      Guys whining, one of which thinks soccer is growth is strangled.

      Reply

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