World Cup: Sunil Gulati says US may bid to host 2026 tournament, but "not unless the rules change"
After losing out on hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, could the United States make a push to host the 2026 tournament?
Perhaps, but only under certain conditions.
US Soccer Federation president and FIFA Executive Committee member Sunil Gulati participated in a panel discussion along with MLS Commissioner Don Garber as part of the Leaders in Sport conference on Wednesday, and after discussing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, was asked if the US would bid for the following World Cup.
"We're not going to bid unless the rules change," Gulati responded, before going on to contrast the distinctions in transparency standards between FIFA and US Soccer, including financial transparency.
The United States was one of the countries considered to have a very good chance at landing the 2022 World Cup hosting rights, but Qatar was awarded the tournament, presumably to continue recent efforts to host the tournament in countries that hadn't hosted previously (that includes the US in 1994, Japan and South Korea in 2002, South Africa in 2010, and the upcoming 2018 tournament in Russia).
However, widespread allegations of bribes paid to FIFA Executive Committee members reportedly swayed the vote in favor of the Asian country, the smallest ever to be awarded the World Cup.
Furthermore, concerns over the extreme climate in the country and mounting evidence about migrant workers whose human rights are being violated on a large scale, in addition to large numbers of workers dying in the efforts to build the infrastructure for the World Cup, means controversy persists about the selection process and Qatar's suitability as a host country. FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently called awarding the tournament to Qatar "a mistake."
Despite being a member of the ExCo himself now, following his election in 2013, Gulati indicated during the panel he is not content to maintain the status quo when it comes to distributing hosting rights for FIFA tournaments.