(WFI) U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati has criticised FIFA’s 2022 World Cup bidding process that led to Qatar securing hosting rights over the USA, Australia, Japan and Korea.
With the prospect of the Qatar World Cup being switched to winter to avoid the searing desert heat moving ever closer – now backed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter – the bids which missed out are rightly aggrieved that world football’s governing body is shifting the goalposts to accommodate the 2022 competition in the Gulf state.
Gulati, who was earlier this year elected to the FIFA Executive Committee, told reporters on Sunday that the USA would be interested in bidding for the 2026 but the process had to be more clearly defined.
“The process needs to be far more transparent as far as what matters. What’s OK. What’s within the rules and what’s not,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
FIFA’s inspectors for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids visited all the candidates before delivering an evaluation report.
That dossier rated Qatar as a high overall risk, with the heat cited as an issue and proposals for unproven air-conditioned stadia also a FIFA concern.
“In my view, if you’re going to have a technical part of the bid, the technical part should be given some weight,” Gulati said, referring to the content of the evaluation reports which were seemingly overlooked by the FIFA ExCo members who voted on the 2018 and 2022 hosts.
“If you’re going to send people around and do an analysis of stadiums and conditions and government commitments and all of that, then that should have a significant role in final bid process.
“If it’s only about going to new frontiers, OK. But let’s know that going in,” Gulati added.
“If it’s about maximizing revenue, let’s know that going in. Whatever. I think that needs to be far more clear.”
Last week, another FIFA executive committee member, Theo Zwanziger, called the selection of Qatar to stage the World Cup a “blatant mistake”, adding that a winter tournament would also create serious problems for the European football calendar.
His comments came a week after Blatter had said the 2022 World Cup should now be moved to winter, having reconsidered his views on the impact of a summer Qatar competition on health of players and fans. The FIFA ExCo is scheduled to discuss the matter and take a decision at its meeting on October 3 and 4.
Gulati also dismissed rumours that the USA had been approached by FIFA to be on standby to host the 2014 World Cup, if ongoing anti-government protests in Brazil threatened tournament security and the safety of football fans.
“Brazil’s going to host the World Cup,” he said, confirming that he was considering running for a third term as head of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Gulati spoke to reporters on Sunday shortly before the Gold Cup final at Chicago’s Soldier Field between the USA and Panama. The USA triumphed 1-0 thanks to a 68th minute goal from Brek Shea to claim their fifth Gold Cup title.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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