One day after the U.S. men’s national team’s stunning failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the American Outlaws – an organization with over 30,000 members, and with a functional, though unofficial, relationship with the United States Soccer Federation – called for the departure of USSF president Sunil Gulati.
“Dramatic changes must be made at many levels, but it all starts at the top,” the official U.S. soccer supporters’ group wrote in a statement. “In no uncertain terms, the President of the United States Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, must go. Despite past successes he has presided over an unmitigated disaster and the Federation needs fresh leadership and ideas from top to bottom.”
Gulati is nearing the end of a third term as president of the federation, and has yet to announce whether or not he will seek re-election in February. For the first time, though, he will have challengers. One is Steve Gans. Another is Paul LaPointe. Others could join the race soon as well. After all, there is no better time to capitalize on an appetite for change than now.
The American Outlaws aren’t the only ones that have that appetite. And Gulati isn’t the only person they want gone. In the statement, they also addressed national team manager Bruce Arena, who is widely expected to resign or be fired:
“Bruce Arena was brought in with the singular mission of getting us to the World Cup. He has failed and should step down as well. The buck stops with them and we call on them to accept the responsibility of this outcome.”
The supporters group, which is not officially tied to U.S. Soccer, but which works hand-in-hand with the federation surrounding games and other events, also addressed the players with a less forceful plea for improvement.
“As for the players we thank them and will always be behind them in the stands,” the statement read. “We ask that the next time the players step on the field for their country they individually and collectively play with a renewed sense of urgency as we reinvigorate the fan base and begin to build towards qualification for the 2022 World Cup.”
Earlier in the day, Donna Shalala, one of two independent directors on the USSF board, also expressed her displeasure, and called the previous night’s result a “wake up call.”
This morning 2-1 unacceptable For us in USSoccer more than a wake up call. Time for a revolution. Need a long term plan that is smart
— Donna E. Shalala (@DonnaShalala) October 11, 2017
The blame must be placed squarely at the feet of U.S. Soccer’s management, led by Sunil Gulati. The first step in ensuring that American soccer consistently performs at a level that spares all of us the kind of negative emotions generated by our National Team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup is for Mr. Gulati to resign. It is his only honorable path forward. The USSF Board members and senior management personnel appointed or nominated by Mr. Gulati should follow him out the door.
Prominent soccer journalists such as Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl have also called for Gulati to go.
As of Wednesday afternoon, both Arena and Gulati still hold their respective positions.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.