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Sunil Gulati

Sunil Gulati Conference Call: April 22, 2013

Opening comments:
“Obviously Friday was a positive result in terms of election for the FIFA Executive Committee slot and I’m pleased it came out in our favor. It was an election, it was a close election, the campaign was relatively short but the positive was it in fact was a campaign and people had a choice. Contested elections haven’t been the norm in CONCACAF so I think that’s a positive in itself that it gave both Justino Compean and myself a chance to talk to people in the region about our thoughts and what our outlook was for the future.”

On if FIFA wants reform following past allegations of corruption:
“I think the reforms that have been achieved in the first part, which happened last May were a very good first step. Hopefully there will be another good step this May with a number of other things that will be implemented and President Blatter at the CONCACAF Congress eluded to a third part of the process. So it could be that some of the things that don’t happen in May of this year are rolled over and looked at again a year from now. You’ve got an institution that’s been here a long time that obviously has had a number of challenges over the last few years on governance issues and the public relations that go along with some of those governance issues. I think at the highest level there is a sincere effort to try to reform and change the organization, I think some of the things that happen show that, clearly there needs to be a lot more done and hopefully some of that will happen in May and hopefully a lot more will happen beyond that. There are some things that are football governance issues that are very specific to the organization about the makeup of the Executive Committee for example and there are others that are quite standard things that should be implemented by any institution, like having a separate ethics panel or having independence. Hopefully we get a lot of those things done in May and whatever else is still on the agenda will be looked at beyond that.”

On the difficulty of an American having influence in FIFA:
“I think those are saying the same thing as if you’re an American are you an outsider in terms of governance because we’ve got standards in the U.S., whether it’s our American law or our American history so there is an element of that because traditions and cultures are very different. For example, in an American based non-profit it’s not a recommendation, it’s the law that we have to disclose compensation of our top level employees and our top outside contractors. That’s not the norm in Europe or the rest of the world. That may be the easiest example, so any number of other areas where our experience, our legal system, our history and culture are different than other places so it’s not easy but in terms of influencing at the Executive Committee I’ve obviously had a chance to do that. The governance panel I think share a lot of those same things while understanding there are differences across countries. Another [is] term limits, for example. It has become standard for the past 60 or 70 years that the U.S. presidency has term limits, but we know that’s not the norm in the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. That’s one of the things being discussed. [Another is] age limits which are also being discussed in FIFA, which are not the norm in the U.S. because in most cases, in electoral positions, they would be considered illegal. Certainly in the workplace they are. And some organizations have those age limits when their membership organizations are non-profit. There are a number of areas where the U.S. is different and other countries are quite different.”

On why he hasn’t commented on allegations about Qatar being chosen as World Cup host over the U.S.:
“I congratulated Qatar the day they won the bid and we still do that. The rest is just rumors and commentary. Qatar is hosting the World Cup. I understand there may be people that are looking at that. I don’t know if the new independent investigative chamber is looking at that specifically, but we don’t have any comments to make. We’re not making the accusations or anything else, so what am I going to comment on? On rumors or on allegations that are unsubstantiated at this point? If there’s an investigation that is going on, so be it. Other than saying, yes there are rumors out there or there are not, I’m not sure what I would be commenting on, frankly.”

On his thoughts on the resignation of Alexandra Wrage from the Independence Governance Committee last week:
“I didn’t find that out that Alex had resigned until late last night and as I understand it the work of the governance panel is to continue for a third year beyond this year. Alexandra, and I haven’t talked to her, hadn’t felt she could influence the process in the way she wanted to. I can’t comment on that any further because I haven’t talked to her or seen any of her comments.”

On receiving votes from mainly English speaking countries:
“The Northern zone, which actually includes Bermuda and Bahamas from a geographic point of view but they are also in the CFU from a caucusing point of view, so the North was 3-1 or 4-1 depending on how you look at it. Central America made a decision, which in terms of my candidacy was not a positive decision, they decided they would vote as a majority and vote as a block in that majority. So if it had been 5-2 or 6-1 in favor of Justino, they voted as a block. In the Caribbean, it did end up breaking with very few exceptions, the English speaking countries supported me and the Spanish or Dutch speaking countries supported Justino. That is also how it generally broke down in the Caribbean in the election for the football presidency last year, so there is clearly a language alliance. [CONCACAF President] Jeff Webb and I will work very hard to try and bring those countries back so it’s not falling along those lines on most issues. Obviously it came down to the very end on how the vote would go, it was a public vote and obviously a little nerve-wracking as each person is standing up and saying who they’ll vote for. “

On if Jeff Webb rallied his federation members to support him:
“Jeff took a position of neutrality. He said he would leave it to the members, so I think those words speak for themselves. He was in an awkward situation as the sitting president, but he made it clear he wouldn’t get in the middle of this race.”

On whether there was a concern about backlash from Caribbean nations from the Chuck Blazer incident in 2011:
“I can’t speak to what individual members were feeling about two years ago. Obviously most of the Caribbean members voted for me so I don’t know if two or three more would’ve voted for me with the absence of that issue or that concern. It’s impossible to know.”

On whether he would be willing to publish what he gets as a member of the FIFA ExCo in regards to travel expenses, etc.:
“The answer would be yes, with a caveat. I don’t know what [the compensation] is today, to be frank. I’ve read things online, but I’ve never been told definitively what that is. The second is if I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement with FIFA. That would then be difficult, but I don’t know that I’m going to be. I don’t know what the rules of the road are there, but in the absence of that, it’s my belief that FIFA should, in fact, disclose the compensation of directors. I would have no problem of disclosing if it’s not a violation of any provision with FIFA for directors.”

On the push by CONCACAF to obtain a full fourth berth to the FIFA World Cup:
“Is there a push for that? The answer is yes. We’ve made that very clear. Obviously it won’t apply for this World Cup. I think, certainly, the ability to get a fourth World Cup spot will depend partly on what happens in Brazil. If our teams are successful, that increases the likelihood of that happening. It’s one of those situations that is very much a zero sum game because the half spot has to come from somewhere. With the next World Cup being in a European country, Brazil will be giving up that full spot, but will UEFA be saying, ‘Okay, it’s Russia plus the full number of spots we’ve had in the past.’ I don’t’ know. It’s a little bit early for that and it’s certainly not independent of the performance of the CONCACAF teams next summer in Brazil.”