Sunil Gulati will not run for a fourth term as U.S. Soccer president, he said Monday, citing a desire to “to see someone new in the job.”
ESPN was the first to report Gulati’s decision to depart the post, which he has held since 2006. Reached Monday night, Gulati, who has worked for U.S. Soccer in a variety of roles for about three decades, confirmed his decision but declined further comment.
As president, Gulati was responsible for a significant increase in the global profile of American soccer and for the swelling of U.S. Soccer’s bank accounts; the federation now sits on reserves of about $100 million. But the United States men’s national team’s failure in October to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia — a crushing disappointment to the team, to Gulati and especially to fans who had come to expect its quadrennial presence in the tournament — allowed long-simmering complaints about Gulati’s leadership and his style to burst into public view.
At least seven candidates — a collection of former players, state-level officials and even a current U.S. Soccer vice president — have already entered the race to succeed Gulati, and another, the veteran marketing executive Kathy Carter, is expected to join that field in the coming days.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and talking about it with people in many different positions — many of whom told me I should run,” Gulati told ESPN. “But in the end, I think the best thing for me personally, and for the federation, is to see someone new in the job.”
Gulati refused to resign in the wake of the World Cup elimination, even as much of the blame for it — much of it furious, and some of it openly racist — was laid at his door by fans and critics. In his interview with ESPN, he made clear that he thought he might have won anyway.