Sunil Gulati will not seek re-election as US Soccer president, he told ESPN on Monday.
Gulati, who has led the federation since 2006, had been mulling whether to seek a fourth-term as president since the US men’s national team failed in October to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“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 said in an interview with ESPN’s Sam Borden. “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’s decision comes just two months before US Soccer will hold its presidential election at its annual general meeting in Orlando in February. Seven candidates are already in the running to replace him: former US national team and MLS players Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino and Paul Caligiuri; attorneys Steve Gans, Mike Winograd, longtime soccer administrator Paul Lapointe; and US Soccer VP Carlos Cordeiro.
Gulati declined to endorse any of the candidates in his interview with ESPN, telling Borden that none of the other candidates’ candidacies made a serious impact on his own choice to bow out.
“I’ve met all seven who have declared their candidacies, and there are lots of different thoughts among them about what’s important,” Gulati said. “I think several of them would be in for a pretty big shock about what the job is – it’s not just about national teams. It’s about four million registered players, referees, medical safety, grassroots stuff. It feels like that stuff gets ignored sometimes."