Gulati? Hah! When You Want a Rigged Election, Ask Jack Warner

Much mention was made around the soccerbloggosphere this past week about the reelection of Sunil Gulati for another term as Exalted Grand Poohbah of USSF, and particular notice was given to the fact that he ran unopposed as if this was in and of itself evidence of an ironfisted, dictatorial reign.

While I'm far from Gulatis' biggest fan - the man is a walking, talking conflict of interest - I'm afraid the election thing is a bum rap.

Is there someone else you had in mind? Alexi Lalas, perhaps? Steve Sampson? If any Board members have pretty young wives, maybe John Harkes would be interested.

You can't replace somebody with nobody. Besides, for this to be the true equivalent of the kind of fixed, fraudulent elections everyone seems to want to compare it to, you'd need for there to be some kind of dire threat to anyone who dared toss his hat in the ring.

For example, compare the USSF election to the one CONCACAF held last year.

Peter Jenkins, longtime head of the St. Kitts and Nevis FA, was ousted in a Warner-engineered coup in 2008 for foolishly demanding that close Warner associate Chet Greene provide receipts or other documentation to back up his demand for $980,000 in "expenses" he claimed he was owed by the Antigua and Barbuda FA ABFA).

The SKNFA held elections a few months later and Jenkins was reelected, but CONCACAF refused to certify the results to FIFA and instead sent a delegation to conduct another election four months later (March 2009) under the supervision and control of Warners' appointed lackeys.

Jenkins lost. Imagine that.

In June, Jenkins was nominated by Grenada and seconded by Antigua and Barbuda to replace Warner favorite Captain Burrell on the CONCACAF board, but Jenkins withdrew before the vote when it became clear that any federation voting for him would suffer severe punishment from a by now furious Jack Warner.

Unsatisfied by this abject surrender, Warner formally disqualified Jenkins from ever again holding any office in Caribbean football and then sent a letter to Grenada and Antigua demanding that they appear before him immediately to "submit reasons why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for their attempts to destabilize Caribbean football...".

Warner then famously asked "Who is Grenada to nominate Jenkins without asking me? And who is Antigua to second that nomination without asking me? They will have to pay."

The payment began last Fall when Grenada FA President Ashly Folkes lost an election bid in another CONCACAF-supervised ballot, and the ABFA was suspended from CONCACAF and taken over by a Warner-appointed "reconciliation committee".

(Ironically, Jenkins was originally one of Warners' strongest supporters. He was there the day back in 1990 when Warner and then-USSF Vice President Chuck Blazer strode into the 1990 CONCACAF Congress and announced that he intended to oust then President Joaquin Terrazas of Mexico.

Jenkins also applauded as Warner and Blazer swelled CONCACAF's power within FIFA by creating nine new FA's in the Caribbean, including Anguilla, US Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos, four "countries" with 151,000 people between them who didn't even have FA's until Warner created them.

But when it became clear that theft and power grabbing had become Warners' main focus, to the detriment of football, Jenkins decided to take a stand.

And Warner made him pay, a lesson which is most assuredly not lost on Jenkins former colleagues in CONCACAF)

So before anyone starts in pretending that Gulati's lack of an electoral opponent is evidence that the guy is some kind of third world corruptocrat (and painful stupidity like the MLSTumors "expose" aside) ask yourself this question:

If the head of the Iowa Soccer Association decided to run against Sunil Gulati, what would happen?

Would he win? Probably not.

Would Iowa be tossed out of USSF? Absolutely not.

Would Gulati send thugs to throw out the entire Iowa Soccer Association leadership and hold phony elections to replace them with Gulati loyalists? Oh please.

Would the guy from Iowa be banned from haolding any position in USSF as long as he lives? Certainly not.

It's true that Sunil Gulati - who is, incidentally, a close personal pal of Chuck Blazers' - continues to offer public support, even slobbering loyalty, to Jack Warner. The description of Gulati as part of Warner's "trail of stooges" at FIFA events is or ought to be a cause of great shame on the part of all of us who claim to love the game.

But USSF did, does and will continue to hold free and fair elections, and any representation to the contrary is simply counterproductive, since it tends to obscure the actual corruption going on under our noses and which the USSF is uniquely positioned to oppose.

Barbuda can't stand up to Warner and Blazer, and there's no shame in them not trying. Jack Warner can crush them like a bug.

The USSF could in fact stand up to them and chooses not to.

I'll leave it to you to decide what the real problem is, but one thing it's not is the USSF elections process.

On the other hand, one item that came out of the USSF Board meeting deserves more notice that it's received:

Former pro committee representative Kevin Payne resigned his position and was replaced by WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci who joins MLS Commish Don Garber as the two pro member reps.

Maybe it's just a sop to political correctness, or maybe it's a vote of confidence on USSFs' part, or maybe it's recognition of Antonucci's unquestionable commitment to soccer in the US.

In the end, the reason doesn't matter. It was the right thing to do. For once, USSF got it right.

Danny SPOKE TOO SOON yesterday when he opined that the "World Cup dreams" of various players, including Kevin Hartman, had apparently gone the way of all flesh after not being called up for Bob Bradley's version of The Last Chance Corral.

A couple of hours later, due to 1) the injury to Zach Thornton and b) the fact that he hasn't got anything else to do after Peter Vermes decided that he was excess to requirements in KC, Hartman got the call and is now in Carson.