Gulati finds a lot of the talk around the election 'depressing and disgusting'

In a rare pubic address, outgoing U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati sent more than an hour at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia talking about a host of soccer topics, including the state of American soccer and the race to succeed him as president.

Gulati, who took part in a Q&A with Fox Sports' Alexi Lalas and took questions from the audience, said he found a lot of the talk around the election "depressing and disgusting, frankly. I’ve been to the last 34 U.S. Soccer AGMs … and I’ve been to the last 30 out of 31 of these conventions, and at all those AGMs, the mood’s been really good."

In terms of the election, he described some of the ideas of candidates are nonsensical or if they were solutions to problems -- he said improvements could be made in lots of areas -- they simply couldn't be implemented quickly enough.

Candidates for president. Gulati would not come out and say he endorses Kathy Carter, on leave from SUM and a colleague going back to their days at the 1994 World Cup organizing committee, though it would be a shock if he did endorse someone and it was not Carter.

“We certainly have some I think are more qualified than others," he said, "and some that are far less qualified than what I think is appropriate for the office."

Pay-to-play. Gulati said the math didn't add up for those who argue to use the federation surplus to end the problem.

"We have $150 million in the bank," he said. "That's from 10-15 years of savings. To end pay-to-play, to do a little back-of-the-envelope analysis, without knowing what every kid pays, would mean paying $150 million a month, every month to end it. There's nowhere in the world that has no pay-to-play. What you want to make sure of is that anybody can afford it. But you have millions of kids playing, and the thought that we're going to end play-to-play is nonsensical."

Promotion-relegation. Gulati said he was "agnostic" generally but said it could never happen immediately and could never happen if FIFA tried to implement without the case going to the Supreme Court.

“There’s a whole bunch of people that came in on one set of rules," he said. "And some of them paid $150 million and built a stadium for another $250 million based on a certain set of rules. If they sit down and talk with other leagues and decide, ‘We want to do this, promotion and relegation, for all the reasons people think are positive’ -- fantastic. We, as a federation, aren’t going to be able to legislate it. And anyone who thinks we can without everyone’s agreement is going to end up with nine judges in Washington.”

Change in calendar. Gulati said MLS spent a long time studying the pros and cons of switching to a fall-spring calendar as played in most of Europe and in South America, most with split-season competitions, and decided it was not viable.

Gulati talked about meeting Sepp Blatter in 2010, and the former FIFA president told him the U.S. leagues needed to switch the calendar. When he told Blatter the weather in New York and Toronto in January was more like that in Moscow and Helsinki, he said Blatter said the solution was domed stadiums.

"So now we’re going to build soccer-specific domed stadiums?" he said. "And seven years ago, MLS wasn’t exactly cash positive. … I’d love to see the season a little bit longer, in terms of player development. And all the technical guys agree with me on that. But the thought that we can have a month break in December and January, what do you do? We’re going to play on March 4 in New York at Red Bull [Arena] with the women’s team. This isn’t worrying about the temperature being 12 degrees or 28 degrees. We could have two feet of snow on the ground.”

6 comments about "Gulati finds a lot of the talk around the election 'depressing and disgusting'".
  1. Wooden Ships, January 19, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.

    Whose decision endorsed/agreed to play in New York in March? Women are tougher though, so cold and snow, they will soldier on. After all they are accustomed to getting the short end of the stick under your administration. I genuinely appreciate all the years of service to soccer in our country, but I’m ready for new leadership. Others can fill your shoes (we are all replaceable) in our quest to host another World Cup. 

  2. Ric Fonseca, January 19, 2018 at 10:09 p.m.

    Ithink that in previous comments during the past several years I've made it known that I have known SG since the years prior to WCUSA1994.  During this interim I found him to be forthright and personable, however, as his term in office went from the first term to the current one, now in his sunset days as US Soccer President, and his deep involvement within the FIFA sphere of influence, I am sad to say that I regret to read that he finds the current verbage surrounding the forthcoming elections "depressing and disgusting."  From one academician to another, and as todays announcement here in LA that our chief of police is retiring, his comments were welcome, especially when he said that he's looking forward to retirement, but he didn't say that the language he's being barraged with is "depressing and disgusting." Yes, there are those in LA and around the US soccer community who are not so gentlemanly or ladylike in their feelings about SG and I am very sure that the job is taxing and can wear down anyone after the first or second terms in office.
    Maybe he was misquoted, but I doubt that Paul Kennedy would do that. Then again, he found out only too soon that being president of US Soccer is not as easy as he perhaps thought, and I'll go so far as to say, it ain't a local youth league where volunteerism is the norm, or an adult league where some don't give a hoot concerning affiliation or non-affiliation.  As the new president will find out, it is a cut-throat job, and one must have a helluva tick skin.  Today, the soccer community ain't your soccer community of the late '60's or '70's, where we were but a speck on the US sports wall, not very knowledgeable of and about el jogo bonito.  Todays soccer community from the little tykes to the "over the hill" guys (like yers truly) are very knowledgeable and know a hell of a lot about that of which we speak, not depressing and disgusting.  So sorry you feel that way SG, so all the very best to you in your years not so innundated with soccer trivia that is our jogo bonito, and thanks for your time.  

  3. Ric Fonseca replied, January 20, 2018 at 3:06 p.m.

    In "replying" to myself and asking myself, why and how come we haven't seen a photo of Prof. SG with a smile? Ok, ok, ok, I know we got schooled pretty good during the knockout stage and now are but mere soccer mortals watching the "Russian spectacle" in a few months, so I am sure that would elicit SA to print the one above.... jeez, come on SA guys, I am sure you could've found one with him smiling and showing his pearly whites in your photo archives. 
    BUT, after reading about Arena's "Couva rotten eggs," heck he could've made a darned good scrambled egg or an omelet; and this brings, rather TAKES me back to the Steve Sampson WC stint when the rotten and or bad eggs then were "unmasked" and thus Sampson's time as USMNT coach came to a disastrous end much like - to a point - Jurgen K's head coaching demise in gringolandia's soccer world.  So back to Prof. SG, so you're devoting 90% of your time on the possible tirumvirate - read CONCACAF - hosting of the world cup, and I fervently hope you can pull it off, but let's pray and hope ok, but pray tell us - your faculty office (Columbia Univ?) is pretty nice and the students are also better to deal with than those aggresive and disgusting futbol folks.  Again, Sunil, muchas gracias por habernos servido y representado, pero tambien como te conozco muy bien, por favor SONRIE A lA CAMARA!!!

  4. R2 Dad, January 20, 2018 at 2:01 a.m.

    Since this is the first time ever that we've expected to qualify for the WC and have not, perhaps SG should be a little more understanding about the dissatisfaction in the ranks. Either he doesn't have a barometer to measure the mood of those he represents, or he doesn't care. Disgust seems inappropriate. Perhaps he thinks this reflects poorly on all he has contributed, but this election is about the future, not his past. Most of those I've read about who have had prominent positions keep mentioning how everything is just fine, and major change is not needed, and how it's been great so far. At this point, I don't care how far we've come--I only care about how far we have yet to go. It seems the old guard can't imagine a future any different from our past. I'm pretty sure when SG and Garber started out they had big plans for the future--I just don't hear any of that from either of those men anymore. US Soccer 2.0 will require change, starting with them.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, January 20, 2018 at 6:59 p.m.

    Pretty well said R2.

  6. uffe gustafsson, January 20, 2018 at 7:24 p.m.

    most of you guys wanted klinnsman head on a plate and Gulati served to you. Unfortunately Bruce didn’t deliver the price to you.
    so I’m not sure what you want beside finding the next scape goat. What I think is really happening is the competition have improved tremendously and USA is no longer a shoe in. Look at women’s competition now you have England Spain and South American team coming up and challenge the top countries.
    same is in our part of the world.
    i have no answers besides no shoe inns anymore.
    hope we get the WC in 2026 and I’m still alive.
    the 1994 WC was high lite of my life.

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