ST. LOUIS -- U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati indicated that the USSF is unlikely to ever impose a system of promotion/relegation on the leagues under its jurisdiction.
Speaking to a group of reporters ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Gulati said one reason why implementing such a system would be difficult is that the sports culture in the U.S. is different than it is elsewhere in the world.
"In all of our major team sports we have playoffs," he said. "That's not the norm everywhere else. I'm not even talking about seasonal year or anything else, just the fact that the origins of the game are quite different and the way that promotion/relegation started organically in Europe and in Latin America -- with what in some cases were company teams -- it's just completely different. So that's not saying one is better than the other. That's just the reality of it."
Gulati added that he believes the USSF has the authority to impose such a system on leagues, but that doing so is "fraught with peril" due to the fact that clubs and their owners would have entered leagues under one set of rules only to have another set forced on them. Such a move would likely result in litigation.
"I think it's safe to say, that if the federation imposed all the powers that it might have via the Ted Stevens Act, and its membership in FIFA, there would be very long discussions with many people with high LSAT scores," he said, referring obliquely to lawyers.
That said, Gulati didn't completely rule out the possibility. But support would have to be driven by stakeholders outside of the federation.
"Does that mean that promotion/relegation could never happen? No, I'm not saying that," he said. "But to think that we would, from a federation standpoint, say it's happening -- figure it out or this is what you're doing -- I think that's a rather different setup than when it's happened organically and people knew the rules."