U.S. presidential election could hurt World Cup bid - USSF chief Sunil Gulati

CHICAGO -- U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said the result of the country's presidential election in November could hurt the chances of the U.S. hosting a future World Cup.

Asked at a roundtable with reporters whether the election's outcome could affect a potential bid, Gulati said, "I think the world's perception of the U.S. is affected by who is in the White House, yes, so it has some bearing, sure."

Gulati suggested that winning the hosting rights would be more difficult if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were to win the election over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, especially if the U.S. were to cohost a World Cup with southern neighbors Mexico.

Trump has vowed to build a wall along the border with Mexico, angering many Latinos in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"I think a cohosted World Cup with Mexico would be trickier if Secretary Clinton isn't in the White House," Gulati said.

Although the next U.S. president would be out of office by the 2026 World Cup, the next tournament up for bid, the host is scheduled to be decided in 2020, when the president is still in his or her first term.

Gulati was quick to emphasize that there are numerous factors that go into winning the hosting rights for a World Cup and that a leader who might be unpopular elsewhere in the world isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.

Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup, while Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup.

"Russia and Qatar are hosting two events, so there are a lot of considerations that go into bids, for sure," Gulati said. "That's why I'm not willing to say we wouldn't bid in one case and would bid in another."

The U.S. finished second in the race to host the 2022 World Cup, losing out to Qatar amid compelling evidence of bribery and corruption within FIFA's executive committee. For that reason, Gulati said the U.S. wouldn't formally bid until certain requirements to host the event were spelled out by FIFA.

"Would we love to host a World Cup in the U.S. in the future? The answer is of course yes," Gulati said. "But we're only going to do so if we have clear understanding that there's a fair set of rules and a transparent set of rules. Then we'll make a decision."

Given the infrastructure and number of suitable stadiums already in place, the U.S. could host a World Cup tomorrow if necessary. But Gulati didn't rule out a cohosted World Cup with Mexico or Canada either.

"We're certainly capable of hosting in the U.S., but we're not opposed to alternative scenarios," he said.