The 58-year-old, who has served as U.S. Soccer president since 2006, had been considering running for a fourth term in February's election but made a decision to step aside following the U.S. men's national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Sunil Gulati has chose to end his 12-year reign as U.S. Soccer president by not running in February's election, and the initial reaction is: Maybe the United States is finally becoming a soccer country.
Gulati was eligible for one more four-year term under the US Soccer Federation's term limits.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and talking about it with people in many different positions - many of whom told me I should run", Gulati told ESPN.
The 58-year-old Gulati, who announced his decision Monday, has been a driving force in the USSF for more than 30 years. "I think several of them would be in for a pretty big shock about what the job is - it's not just about national teams".
He became US Soccer president in 2006 and was twice re-elected unopposed. The tournament in Russian Federation will be the first time the U.S. has missed a World Cup since 1986. While he'd have been the favorite to win the U.S. Soccer president race, he could not risk running and losing and the impact losing would have had on the 2026 World Cup bid, on which the FIFA Congress should vote in June. "But the loss to Trinidad was painful, regrettable and led to a lot of strong emotions". "And to be honest, I think at this point, that's overshadowed a lot of other things that are important". Federation Internationale de Football Association will award the World Cup at a June 13 vote. The current candidates are (in alphabetical order): Paul Caligiuri, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Paul Lapointe, Kyle Martino, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda.
Gulati did not tell ESPN which of the candidates he would endorse. Kathy Carter, president of MLS's marketing subsidiary Soccer United Marketing, is considering a bid.