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President Gulati: 'We're talking about dreams'
New York Times, October 28th, 2009 4PM

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Jack Bell conducted an interview with Sunil Gulati, the president of the United States Soccer Federation, on the New York Times' Goal.com blog. Gulati, an economics professor at Columbia University, speaks about the World Cup seeding process, the U.S. chances in the World Cup, and whether there's a U.S. inferiority complex.

Gulati on the mystery of the World Cup seeding process and the U.S. chances to claim one of the top eight seeds: "It's on the FIFA rankings and performance in the last two World Cups. I think looking at it and doing the math, we end up just on the outside. Part of that is because most of the major teams have qualified or will. If Argentina or France or one of the other big countries had missed out, we would have had a chance. But with a top-eight seeding, we're not going to make it."

On if the USA can win the World Cup: "You dream about winning. Brazil goes to the World Cup prepared, expecting, needing to win and they probably book a seat on the plane home for the trophy. The fact is if you get past the first round anything is possible. If someone asks you if you can win the World Cup what are you going to say? We can't win? We're talking about dreams, dreams of our players and what I dream about, too."

On whether or not U.S. soccer has an inferiority complex: "There is some of that for sure. Look, no one is claiming we're Brazil or Spain. No one claims that MLS is the EPL or La Liga. But we've made a lot of progress in building the league and a national-team fan base and culture. They are huge pluses. If we can replicate the growth of the last 25 years in the next 25, I'd do it in a heartbeat. There aren't many countries that have made advances in all ways: MLS is 14 years old; the U.S. makes the largest TV rights payment for the World Cup; Americans are the No. 1 ticket buyers to the World Cup; the U.S. has more registered players; our women's team is unparalleled; and no one is taking the men's team for granted anymore and we're in the mix to be seeded. No one would have thought those things 20 years ago. We're all impatient by nature. It's not fast enough for me."

 

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