Sunil Gulati has served three uncontested terms as the president of U.S. Soccer. But ahead of the 2018 election, when Gulati will have a chance to run for his fourth and final term, that could change.
Steve Gans, an attorney from Boston, recently announced his interest in serving as Gulati’s first challenger. "This is democracy," Gans told Soccer America. “For an organization this big, a $150 million organization, to never have a challenger, a fourth term without a challenger, is not good from a process perspective. For the good of the game, somebody should run. I think I should perhaps be that somebody."
A soccer player, parent, attorney and adviser, Gans has invested in the sport for 40 years. He:
- Played collegiate soccer at Brandeis and Cornell.
- Worked for the New England Tea Men (NASL) and the Baltimore Blast (MISL).
- Served as a board member and legal council to FC Boston, an original member of U.S. Soccer's Development Academy program.
- Represented Robert Kraft and Steve Karp, then owners of Foxboro Stadium, and worked with the local bid committee to bring the 1994 World Cup to Boston.
And Gans believes all of this experience makes him an ideal candidate to take on the seemingly immovable Gualti.
"Sunil is a very intelligent guy, and has definite strengths," said Gans. "But in all humility, I think I am more well-rounded, being a parent of Development Academy players, being an adviser to executives and owners of Premier League teams, having represented players and management. I understand all their perspectives."
According to Soccer America, Gans believes three shortcomings have defined Gulati’s tenure: extending Jurgen Klinsmann's contract through 2018 before the Men’s National Team played a single game in the 2014 World Cup, allowing the labor dispute with the Women's National Team to evolve into a national movement, and not attending a Senate subcommittee hearing on U.S. Soccer's involvement with FIFA and CONCACAF in July 2015.
"You have to wonder why no one has ever opposed Sunil," Gans said. "I don't think it's because he's doing such an excellent job. I get a lot of calls from people who are unhappy, so I am aware of some of the issues.”
Gans went on to tell Soccer America that he believes, "The Men's National Team has gone backwards ... and youth soccer is in disarray."
Though he believes he has what it takes to repair the system, Gans has yet to officially announce his bid for the U.S. Soccer Presidency. First, he wants to spend some time investigating the current landscape of American soccer.
“In the interim period, I want to go on a listening tour. I think I have some good ideas, but I am going to listen. I want to hear what the feedback is."
If Gans does challenge Gulati—and Gulati runs for a fourth term—the race will carry on until Feb. 8-11, 2018, when U.S. Soccer's membership elects its next president during the federation’s Annual General Meeting.