Monday, April 22, 2013

Stonewalled by Sunil Gulati

Sunil Gulati (pictured above with Sepp Blatter) is the president of US Soccer. He also just won an extremely narrow victory to represent CONCACAF on the much criticized FIFA Executive Committee. On Friday, CONCACAF released a report documenting how its leadership -- including the man Gulati is replacing on FIFA's ExCo -- took the organization for an estimated $88 million. Gulati also serves on the so-called Independent Governance Committee of FIFA which today saw a member resign in protest (Alexandra Wrage, more on that later).

I emailed Gulati requesting an interview as part of my ongoing research into the governance of football. Not long ago Gulati has declined to be interviewed when I contacted him about the IGC, however, in 2011 he did kindly offer some comments on an early version of my recent paper on FIFA accountability.

Today, through a spokesman who just emailed back, Gulati refused again to be interviewed as follows:

Thanks for reaching out. I handle most of the interview requests for Sunil.

We just did a call with national media that should be helpful in providing you with some information. I will send along the audio and transcription when it is completed later today.

Also, there will be another time down the road where we will be making Sunil available for questions. We can make sure you are included in that opportunity.

Take care. 
Neil Buethe
Senior Manager of Communications
US Soccer
Gulati is busy no doubt. However, I am a professor doing research (busy also) and can wait for my questions related to governance to be answered on his schedule. The refusal to be interviewed at all speaks for itself in a way I guess. And not in a good way.  Gulati should expect much more attention in his new role. Continued stonewalling of legitimate questions probably can't sustain.

I'll post the transcript of the pooled media interview when I get it (here it is). 


  1. Just FYI, here is my response to the email above from US Soccer:

    "Hi Neil-

    Many thanks for your reply. I do appreciate you sending along the transcript later today.

    Just to be clear, I am not a member of the media, but a college professor who studies governance, and recently, governance of FIFA. Sunil's repeated refusal to answer some basic questions means that I am left with reporting from secondary sources. Having studied many organizations over the past several decades, I find the closed nature of football governance to be pretty unique.

    In any case, please do add me to the list to which you send media announcements.

    Thanks again,

    Roger Pielke, Jr., Professor
    University of Colorado"

  2. Buethe responded to my email above by saying send in some questions and he'll see what he can do. Here is what I sent:

  3. I applaud you on your dedication, but good luck getting Robert Kraft's special advisor to say anything to you.