LONDON (AP) - The United States wants further changes to the World Cup bidding process before trying to bring soccer’s showpiece event to the country again.
FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati, who is also president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, still has deep concerns about the process that led to Qatar beating his country and others to the 2022 World Cup.
Gulati said that while the American bid was centered on purely sporting objectives, rivals wanted the World Cup as a platform for their countries to project themselves on the world stage.
“The rules, the procedures, need to be very different than they are now,” Gulati told the Leaders in Football conference in London. “It’s a unique situation that the Olympics and the World Cup have become so important to countries that nation states are now essentially bidding, it’s no longer bid committees.
“That’s a very difficult situation for countries like England or the United States, frankly, which operate differently. We are not going to conduct a foreign policy based on hosting a World Cup … it’s just never going to be important.”
FIFA has already started to overhaul the process since the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were decided in 2010 by an executive committee discredited by corruption allegations linked to the bidding contests. In future, all of FIFA’s members will be asked to choose future World Cup hosts.
If the U.S., which hosted the 1994 tournament, is to bid again, Gulati wants to know that voters will follow the technical inspection reports that seemed to be ignored when Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament despite the summer heat being declared a high risk.
Gulati said FIFA also needs to establish in advance if a particular continent will be designated a tournament and he would prefer the vote not to be held in secret.
“Would we be interested in bidding for 2026? The procedures would need to be very different to what they are now,” said Gulati, who joined FIFA’s ruling executive this year. “If the critical issue is taking it to new lands, then tell us in advance, because we won’t bother.
“The rules need to be clearer and tighter. And the process needs to be better. If you are stepping on to a field of play, you know what the rules are.”