Sunil Gulati willing to disclose FIFA pay to exco

Updated: April 22, 2013, 4:34 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The incoming American member of FIFA's executive committee is willing to disclose what payments and expense money he receives from soccer's governing body as long as he isn't bound by a confidentiality agreement.

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati was elected Friday to the North American spot on the 25-member committee and will replace fellow American Chuck Blazer on May 30.

"It's my belief FIFA should in fact disclose the compensation of directors," Gulati said Monday during a telephone conference call. "I would have no problem of disclosing if it's not a violation of any provision with FIFA for directors."

A 53-year-old economics teacher at Columbia University and the USSF president since 2006, Gulati was appointed to FIFA's independent governance committee two years ago.

At least 12 executive committee members have been accused of some level of corruption since October 2010: Nigeria's Amos Adamu, Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma, Blazer, Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, Sri Lanka's Manilal Fernando, Cameroon's Issa Hayatou, Paraguay's Nicolas Leoz, Thailand's Worawi Makudi, Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira, Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, Spain's Angel Maria Villar and Trinidad's Jack Warner.

Bin Hammam, Teixeira and Warner resigned, Fernando has been provisionally suspended and Villar was cleared by FIFA.

At its congress last year, FIFA adopted only some of the reforms proposed by the governance committee, headed by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth. More items are on the agenda for adoption May 31 when the FIFA congress is held in Mauritius, but the progress was too slow for Alexandra Wrage, president of the international nonprofit group TRACE. Following the executive committee's refusal to accept some of the proposed changes, TRACE said Monday that Wrage quit the FIFA panel.

"You've got an institution that's been around a long time that obviously has had a number of challenges the last few years on governance issues and the public relations that go along with some of those governance issues," Gulati said. "So I think in fact there is at the highest level a sincere effort to try to reform and change the organization. I think some of the things that have happened show that. Clearly there needs to be a lot more done, and hopefully some of that will happen in May, and a lot more will happen beyond that."

Gulati said disclosure poses more difficulty for FIFA, which is based in Switzerland, than it does with U.S. not-for-profits.

"By being an American are you an outsider on issues of governance, because we've got standards in the U.S., whether it's our American law or our American history?" Gulati said. "There is an element like that, because traditions and cultures are very different."

In the vote for the executive committee slot at the North and Central American and Caribbean congress last week in Panama City, Gulati was supported by most of the English-speaking Caribbean nations, while Mexican Football Federation President Justino Compean attracted the Spanish-speaking countries. Central America voted for Compean in a bloc. With the tally 17-17, Anguilla cast the final vote for Gulati.

Gulati was an executive with U.S. organizers of the 1994 World Cup and headed the American bid to host the 2022 tournament, which failed when FIFA's executive committee voted in December 2010 for Qatar. He won't discuss whether the vote was unfair.

"What am I going to comment on, on rumors or allegations that are unsubstantiated at this point?" he said. "If there's an investigation that is going on, so be it."

He did say a potential bid for the U.S. to host the 2026 World Cup is "certainly is something that we'd be targeting in the future" and that trying to obtain a fourth full World Cup berth for CONCACAF depends on the region's results at next year's tournament in Brazil. CONCACAF has three berths for the 2014 tournament and can gain another in a playoff with New Zealand, the Oceania champion.

"If our teams are successful, that increases the likelihood of that happening," he said. "It's one of those situations that is very much a zero-sum game, because the half spot has to come from somewhere."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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