TORONTO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - The head of the United States
Soccer Federation (USSF) is confident voting to determine the
hosts of the 2022 World Cup will be fair despite the recent
vote-selling scandal that has rocked FIFA.
Sunil Gulati, USSF president and USA Bid Committee chairman,
told reporters on Friday his team, spearheaded by former U.S.
president Bill Clinton, would head to Zurich for the Dec. 2 vote
certain FIFA had dealt with the allegations of vote selling.
Two FIFA executive committee members were banned and fined
on Thursday, one for bribery, over allegations they offered to
sell their votes in the contest to host the 2018 and 2022 World
Four other officials were also banned and fined in an
unprecedented move by football's world governing body, which has
been shaken by the case and is under huge pressure to show that
the contest will be clean and transparent.
"FIFA yesterday made a decision to suspend some of its
members and investigate a number of other things," Gulati said
after a presentation of the U.S. bid ahead of Sunday's MLS Cup
final. "It's an election and we have to convince 22 people now
we are the best place to host it.
"They (FIFA) went a long way to try and bring order to the
process and make sure the process is fair so I am confident this
will be a fair process."
The decision to ban two executive committee members means
only 22, instead of the expected 24, will vote when FIFA chooses
the hosts for the two tournaments.
England and Russia are seeking to stage the 2018 World Cup
along with joint bids from Spain/Portugal and
Belgium/Netherlands while Australia, the United States, Japan,
South Korea and Qatar are bidding for the 2022 finals.
"We need 12 votes instead of 13 now, so it's easier right?,"
smiled Gulati. "I don't think it changes the game dramatically
"We've talked to all 24 members the last couple of years and
obviously at this stage it will be 22 voting so I don't think it
has a direct impact on us."
Gulati is convinced the U.S. has put together an outstanding
bid that is capable of winning on its own merits whether the
balloting is conducted by 22 or 24 FIFA members.
"Size matters, the American market is huge, 320 million
relatively affluent consumers, and I think FIFA understands
that," said Gulati.
"If you see what has happened here in a very important large
market over the past 15 years since the first World Cup (in the
U.S.) then I think FIFA understands.
"They know the U.S. has an appetite for the game.
"The upside of a market like the United States getting more
engaged in the world's game is something that is unique."
"I'm optimistic but we are also realistic, there are some
very good bids," he added.
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