US Soccer Federation’s Sunil Gulati applauds election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA president

In fact, the US Soccer Federation cast its vote for Prince Ali in the first round and then helped Infantino win in the second round after no candidate earned two-thirds of the first-round votes.

For the first time in 18 years, FIFA has a new leader at the helm – but what does it mean for the US?

UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino was narrowly elected FIFA president on Friday and the US was among the delegations supporting him, with US Soccer president Sunil Gulati expressing optimism for what Infantino’s leadership will mean for the US.

“We’ve known Gianni a long time, I’ve known him personally for a long time and we’re looking forward to working with him,” Gulati told FOX Sports. “He understands the US side quite as well. There’s lots of similarities to what they do in Europe and what we do. He’s committed to reform. He’s a late entry into the race for a lot of circumstances, but I’m very pleased with the outcome.

“I’ve talked with Gianni as much as I’ve talked to any candidate over the last six months,” he added. “We met, five, six, seven times, so it’s a good outcome.”
Gulati had publicly announced on Thursday night his intention to vote for Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan. But after Friday’s vote, Gulati revealed the US had also been supporting Infantino’s bid and were prepared for more than one round of voting. In fact, the US Soccer Federation cast its vote for Prince Ali in the first round and then helped Infantino win in the second round after no candidate earned two-thirds of the first-round votes.

“We said what we were going to do last night in voting for Prince Ali,” Gulati said. “There’s two reasons we waited until this late in the game to make that announcement. One is we had two candidates we very much liked. Second, I wanted our members of our board to go through a process where they knew those candidates.

“It was a tough discussion last night with Gianni, saying ‘This is what we’re going to do on the first round.’ I’m not going to say he loved the idea,” Gulati added, “but he understood very clearly we would be with him when it mattered. Right after the first ballot ended, we got Ali and Gianni together, the three of us had a discussion, and some good things happened in the second ballot.”

Asked about whether Infantino’s election bodes well for a potential future World Cup in the USA, Gulati said the topic had already been raised with the new FIFA president-elect.
“We got a candidate that we’re supportive of, that we get along very well with, that understands the nuances of the American market,” Gulati said. “I think it’s a little early to talk about 2026, but I think you can rest assured that it got brought in some of the discussions we had over the last couple days.”

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