Soccer  > General Soccer  > U.S. disappointed, undaunted by World Cup vote
December 2, 2010, 03:55 PM
Sunil Gulati's voice was low, his usual assuredness tepid.

Only hours after the United States was beaten by Qatar in the bid to stage the 2022 World Cup, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation remained undaunted about the prospects for the sport in his country.

"The trend lines continue to be positive, whether it's the national team, or new stadiums???Those trend lines continue," Gulati told reporters on a conference call. "We tried to tell FIFA, with 2022 this would be like putting a foot on the accelerator. It was an opportunity lost. We'll get there. It will take longer, and require a little more work. The World Cup is a big event. Today is a big disappointment."

It took four rounds of voting before Qatar prevailed over a field of five countries including the United States. Australia was eliminated in the first round with one vote. Japan followed next with two votes. And South Korea was the last remaining before the Qatar-United States showdown that went for the Middle Eastern emirate 14-8 in the vote of the 22-member FFIA executive committee.

The announcement came after FIFA President Sepp Blatter unveiled Russia as the winner of the 2018 World Cup, chosen over bids by England and joint submissions by Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal.

Gulati refused to speculate on the motives of the executive committee members, but repeated his assertion that he realized the technical aspect of the American bid, rated as the best by an independent firm on the basis of economic guarantees, didn't assure victory.

"We've said all along it isn't about a technical bid, it's an election," said Gulati, who recounted the legacy aspects and other selling points some of its rival bidders stressed. "All of those sorts of things come into it. We're disappointed. We lost. Congrats to Qatar. We move on.

"It's politics. It's friendships. It's alliances. There were far too many permutations in the voting. I'm not sure how it figures in all of that."

Gulati said he identified Qatar as potentially a formidable rival earlier this year and that even if the U.S. bid was superior technically, it obviously didn't sway enough opinion.

"For me personally, I saw their presentation in Angola in Feburary when they sponsor African (Football Confederation) congress, with air conditioned outdoor stadiums," Gulati said. "They outlined a vision at that point, and I though 'This isn't fantasy, this is a dream, and dreams can happen." It was a dream, a dream realized.

"There's not a lot gained by comparing bids technically. In the end, results are the only thing that matters."

Whether the United States decides to bid for the 2026 World Cup, Gualti said was a topic for another day.

"This is two hours old," Gulati said, fatigue apparent in his voice. "Those of us involved in this want to sit back, and want to sit at least - not too long - but until the end of the night before we decide what to do."
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