News 4 November 2015

Gulati refuses to answer questions at ICSS event

Sunil Gulati, President of the US Soccer Federation (USSF), refused to answer any media questions at the Securing Sport conference in New York today, despite journalists being told that he was available to interview. “I have an email that we sent them [the ICSS] saying I wasn’t going to be doing media”, said Gulati, who avoided questions from the New York Post, Reuters and others. It is understood that Gulati may have not been able to answer questions because he is assisting US authorities with their investigations into allegations of corruption that surround FIFA.

Gulati was interviewed by political consultant James Carville in a 40-minute session that only mentioned FIFA three times. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was questioned more about FIFA, despite admitting that she knew little about soccer. The ICSS denied that Carville had been briefed not to ask difficult questions.

Gulati was called to give evidence in a July Senate hearing examining whether US Soccer was either complicit in corruption at FIFA, or turned a blind eye to it. Gulati did not attend the hearing, sending CEO Dan Flynn, who told Senators that he knew nothing about corruption within FIFA and CONCACAF. Click here to view the full two-hour hearing.

At the time, Flynn argued that US Soccer had elected to send him because he knew more about the day-to-day operations of US Soccer having worked there since 2000. Gulati was elected in 2006, but spearheaded the body’s bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cups. Suspended FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter told Russian news agency TASS that there had been an agreement prior to the 2010 vote that the 2018 tournament would go to Russia and 2022 to the US.

“Unfortunately, the Senate hearing turned out to be nothing other than a media play”, warned former FIFA Independent Governance Committee member and ICSS Advisory Board member Michael Hershman. “The Senate hearing, unfortunately in my judgement, was a one-time affair. I’d like to see the Senate more involved in issues related to compliance and governance in sports. Not only FIFA, but other sports that are having issues involving ethics – whether it be the National Football League or the National Basketball Association.”

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