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Fifa probe: US will vote against Blatter's re-election
[LOS ANGELES] US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said on Thursday he is joining the bid to oust embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in a move that could risk America's chances of hosting another World Cup.
"US Soccer will vote for Prince Ali bin Al Hussein for next president of FIFA," Gulati tweeted on the eve of the global football body's presidential vote.
"This is a vote for good governance & promise for our game," added Gulati, who is also a member of Fifa's powerful executive committee and is in Zurich, Switzerland, for the FIFA congress.
The 79-year-old Blatter is facing increasing calls to step aside after US authorities leveled accusations of "rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption" in the sport.
Blatter himself has not been implicated, but seven officials were arrested in a dawn raid on a Zurich hotel on Wednesday, accused of taking more than US$150 million in bribes.
A total of 14 officials and marketing executives are accused by US investigators of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering.
Gulati told the New York Times that anger quickly followed his shock and disappointment at the indictments.
That anger, he added, only confirmed a decision he had already made, that the US would vote for the only man opposing Blatter's re-election to a fifth term.
Gulati acknowledged that such a vote could dim US hopes of hosting a future World Cup.
"Would I like to see the United States host a World Cup in the future?" Gulati said. "The answer is, of course, yes. But for me, and for US soccer, better governance and more integrity at CONCACAF and Fifa are far more important than hosting any international soccer tournament." With its burgeoning appetite for high-level football, the United States has long been regarded as a front-runner for the 2026 World Cup.
By then the game's global showcase wouldn't have been held in a country from the North and Central American and Caribbean region for more than 30 years.
The next two editions, in 2018 and 2022, are slated for Russia and Qatar, and Fifa has insisted those venues won't change even as Swiss authorities probe corruption in the voting process that awarded them.
"I'm sure there are some people who would disagree with that decision and would prioritize things differently," Gulati told the Times.
"But this is how we feel, and we are doing what we think is right."