Steve Gans is hoping to usher in a new era at the top of American soccer‘s governing body.
The Boston attorney will mount a campaign in an attempt to unseat Sunil Gulati as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. This is according to Washington Post reporter Steven Goff who initially reported on the developments. Gulati ran unchallenged when he became president in 2006 as well as when he sought reelection in 2010 and 2014.
Steve Gans to Challenge Sunil Gulati for U.S. Soccer Federation Presidency
Gans’ decision comes after consulting with various constituencies associated with the game in the U.S. He expects to file paperwork as part of the pre-election process in the coming weeks, with a vote happening during the federation’s general assembly in Orlando from February 8-11. Delegates from across the U.S. soccer spectrum (youth, adult, pro and an athlete council) will take part in the election.
Under Gulati’s watch, the sport has realized noticeable growth. It’s also much more financially viable. Major League Soccer has doubled in size will expand further with the league awarding franchises to four cities in the near future. Women’s pro soccer continues to make inroads with the National Women’s Soccer League now five years old. Gulati is also a huge part of the joint bid with Mexico and Canada to stage the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
But in recent years, Gulati’s leadership has come under fire. The federation is paying Jurgen Klinsmann, fired after the USMNT’s slow start to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, $6.2 million in severance pay. Klinsmann’s replacement, Bruce Arena, stabilized things initially with the US getting improved results in qualifying in 2017 as well as winning the Gold Cup. But two wayward results in September has them fourth in the Hex and they need wins in their final two games to assure qualification.
Gans posits that there are groups within U.S. Soccer at the grassroots level who feel ignored by Gulati. They complain that he focuses on the national teams at the expense of other important elements of soccer in the country. Under his stewardship, Gans hopes to change that.
“Look where we are right now,” Gans told the Washington Post. “To me, it feels more like 1989 or ’90. It’s almost 30 years later and we’re such a robust soccer country in terms of participation. And the current president is reputed to spend most attention on the national teams, and look at this situation we’re in. So it’s time for a fresh perspective.”