U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati says the World Cup bidding process needs an overhaul as FIFA’s decision to award the 2022 event to Qatar continues to bring questions about the timing and voting.
“Is it something we’d like to do in the future? Sure, but I think the rules need to change,” Gulati said at the Leaders in Football conference in London today.
The sport’s governing body, FIFA, picked Qatar as the 2022 host ahead of Australia, Japan and South Korea and the U.S., even after an evaluation report by the soccer authority’s own officials that said it was a “potential health risk” for players and fans to play matches because of dangerously high temperatures in June and July.
FIFA is now conducting a consultation to determine whether the competition needs to be rescheduled to a different time of year.
Gulati, who was elected to FIFA’s executive committee earlier this year, said that the U.S. needs an assurance that future World Cup tournaments are awarded on the strength of bid documents rather than an agenda which favors countries which have never hosted the tournament.
“If it’s a critical issue to host the tournament in new lands then let us know and we won’t bother,” Gulati said. “The World Cup and the Olympics have become so important to countries that nation states are now essentially bid committees.
‘‘That’s a very difficult situation for countries like England or the United States, frankly, which operate a little bit differently,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not going to conduct a foreign policy that’s based on hosting a World Cup.”
Gulati also rejected an earlier statement by the chairman of the English Football Association, Greg Dyke, that the Qatar tournament would definitely not take place in June and July.
“There is no pre-existing agreement or consensus on the outcome of what is going to be an important review,” he said.