Future of US soccer at stake in election – Gans

The United States’ humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup may have left millions of fans across the country in shock, but for Steve Gans, the debacle had been a long time coming.

The 57-year-old Boston attorney’s worst fears came to fruition last month when the USA were eliminated after a 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago in their final qualifying game.

The defeat means the United States will be frustrated spectators when next year’s finals in Russia kick off, the first time since 1986 that the country has missed the world’s greatest tournament.

Gans is now one of the front-runners in a crowded field bidding to unseat United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati when his post comes up for re-election next February.

So far, seven challengers to Gulati’s 11-year reign have emerged for an election that promises to be the most significant for US soccer in decades.

“The future of soccer in America is at stake here, including the future of the United States men’s national team, which is going in the wrong direction,” Gans told AFP in an interview.

Gans was one of the first to declare against Gulati, having embarked on a nationwide “listening tour” in May to take the temperature of American soccer at all levels of the game. He confirmed his plan to run before the US World Cup exit.

“I wanted to hear if the things that I was hearing from the people urging me to run, were representative of the wider soccer community,” Gans said, revealing that common themes soon emerged from different constituencies within the sport.

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