Sunil Gulati More Popular Than Saddam Hussein

You know what's even more cool than winning a Super Bowl?


Tell you what, instead of giving Haiti money, let's give them an NFL team. Since apparently that makes everything all better.

Hey, speaking of sports being incredibly important. I see that the United States Soccer Federation, otherwise known as NORTH KOREA, "unanimously" re-elected Sunil Gulati to as Grand Poobah. How could this possibly have happened, after reading months and months of messages about how Gulati has a conflict of interest with Kraft Soccer, how he bungled horribly the Bob Bradley hiring, and how he stupidly failed to certify either USL-1 or the NASL? I haven't been this mad since someone told me sarcasm doesn't work on blog posts.

Unanimous, huh? Tell me something, how man of you voted? Who out here actually had a voice? Did you even know there was an election? Who...well, you know, I'm actually skirting on a valid point here, so maybe I should drop the snotsnark.

At some point, very very soon, the interests of youth clubs and the interests of fans are going to cleave entirely. Running a nationwide little league racket and fielding a quality international team AND trying to get various leagues from throttling each other are entirely different missions. And the semantics of which priority best serves "promoting the game" will be with us forever.

Couple of things, though.

(A) Barring a serious restructuring of the international game, we're stuck with this. FIFA runs the sport like a protection racket, and it has very specific franchisees. You can't open up a McDonald's without permission from Old McDonald, and you can't open up a soccer federation without permission from Sepp Football.

I know - of course you can. You'd just have to do it without players who want to play in accredited leagues, is all. But FIFA is a cartel, one of the most efficient in history, and asking any USSF official to do anything about it is as close as you can get to pissing up a rope without an actual rope and a twelve pack of Keystone Light.

Unfortunately, it means we're stuck with CONCACAF. Maybe Televisa - sorry, I mean, the FMF - and Sunil are working on a way to undercut Jack Warner's power in the region, but the upside of putting up with Warner is a virtual free pass to the World Cup. I'd like to see the Caribbean left to fend for itself with half a spot (sorry, Jamaica and Trinidad), but I like the whole region having three and a half bites at the apple more. The sport here is in no condition to risk missing the World Cup.

(2) The stuff you're ticked off with Gulati about doesn't matter to any voting bloc in the federation. Unless you really think Sunil sent hired goons to your local association to make sure that they voted the right way.

Association football is still on the upswing in this country. The national team not only wins a lot, but has built a fan base. And the World Cup bid - the only thing that matters right now - is still going well. Maybe you think Gulati should take the blame for Blatter handing the 2018 spot to Europe, but it wasn't as if England's bid was going to be worthless, and now the Fed can concentrate on outdoing Australia (c'mon, Oz. 2026, OK? Gives you a chance to settle things with all the other football leagues).

Maybe you think Gulati should take the blame for Chicago not being on the initial bid list, but the initial bid list might as well have included Centralia, Pennsylvania for all the relevance it will have twelve years from now.

Should fans have a voice in electing the Fed president? Shareholders have a minor say in some teams, but extrapolating that to every part-time casual fan who wants to know why we can't hold on to a lead against Brazil - I just can't get there. The wisdom of crowds is a fallacy unless there's an equal availability of information and education.

But even if the fans had a voice this time, and even if the fans all agree that Gulati is the worst thing to happen to the game since NASL expansion, this year the fans would have been shouted down, and we'd be back where we are today anyway. Gulati would have a 75% mandate instead of a unanimous one, is all.

The fans' voice, ultimately, will overrule all others...but it will be expressed through ticket purchases, television ratings, and support of sponsors. I'd love to see sports run as a democracy among its supporters, but let's let boxing and NASCAR try it first.

If you really want Gulati "fired"? Cheer against the US this summer. Three and out might not get him to immediately retire in disgrace, but you gotta start somewhere.