U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati says he is not going resign from his position following the men's national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
At a press conference Friday, Gulati said he accepted responsibility for the qualifying disaster, which saw the U.S. miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1986. As a result, U.S. manager Bruce Arena announced his resignation earlier Friday. However, Gulati will not be immediately following Arena out the door.
“I take full responsibility," Gulati said. "No, I don’t plan to resign. And it’s not the right day for me to talk about my personal future plans in terms of the federation’s presidency.”
Gulati also declined to indicate whether he would seek another term as U.S. Soccer president. The next election for the position is in February 2018.
However, Gulati's later comments certainly indicated he may be looking to win another term. He confirmed he was seeking support for his nomination for re-election as recently as a few weeks ago and claimed the decision to be president came down to the will of the voters.
“I don’t think that’s a decision that you or I get to make," Gulati said when asked why he deserved another four years. "That’s a decision people who get to vote make.”
Gulati was later questioned as to why he would not resign given the magnitude of the failure, and took issue with the idea “most presidents” would step down in the circumstances and talked of the larger plans U.S. Soccer is involved in.
“We have a lot of things on our agenda including a World Cup bid that is due in the end of March, and a decision in June,” he said. “So I don’t plan to (resign). It’s not the case that most people around the world do do that. Most coaches do, but it’s not the case most presidents do.”
Later, the embattled president pointed to his record of growth during his 12-year reign as to why he deserves to stay, though he clarified he had not decided for certain he would run again. He also pointed to the United States' joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. Gulati is currently the Chairman of the United Bid Committee Board of directors, though it is not clear his role as president drastically changes the status of the bid.
“Because of everything. Where the sport is now and the role I’ve played in it and the role I think I can play going forward if I choose to run," he said. "Plus we have the World Cup bid. The sport is in a very different place than it was 10 years ago or 30 years ago, when I first got involved. So it’s all of that.”