Gulati says U.S. WC bid 'secondary' to President Trump immigration ban

SAN DIEGO -- U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Sunday that the American federation still hasn't decided whether it will bid for the 2026 World Cup, while adding that he's taking a wait-and-see approach to how President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration might impact the potential bid.

"Sports obviously involves international movement and free movement of players, of ideas," Gulati told a small group of reporters at half-time of the U.S. men's national team's scoreless tie in a friendly match against Serbia.

"How this plays out in terms of international events, I think that's frankly a secondary issue right now. The issue involving the executive order and its implications are far broader than that."

Gulati declined to comment when asked if the United States Soccer Federation had a public stance on the highly controversial order, which temporarily bans entry to the U.S. of all refugees and most visitors from seven majority Muslim countries and sparked protests throughout the country and criticism from some governments around the world.

But Gulati also said he had no problem with U.S. captain Michael Bradley, who slammed Trump on Saturday in a message posted to his Instagram account, voicing his opinion.

Bradley wrote: "When Trump was elected, I only hoped that the President Trump would be different from the campaigner Trump [and] that the xenophobic, misogynistic and narcissistic rhetoric would be replaced by a more humble and measured approach to leading our country. I was wrong. The Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn't be more out of touch with our country."

Of the Bradley post, Gulati said: "I saw Michael's comments yesterday and they were clearly heartfelt. Absolutely no issue whatsoever."

As for if the current political climate in the country could influence whether the U.S. bids for the 2026 competition alone or along with one or both of North American neighbors Mexico and Canada, Gulati said the federation would continue to consider its options.

Earlier this month, FIFA approved the expansion of the competition from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said repeatedly that he's open to having two or more countries co-host the planet's biggest sporting event.

"We haven't made any commitments about '26," Gulati said. "The rules still haven't been completely clarified, although more of them are now known in terms of numbers of teams, joint bids, but the process is still very much up in the air. Until we know more about that we'll sit tight.

"We're challenged by a number of things that are going on in the world. So let's see how those play out over the next few weeks before we make any decision about co-hosting or going alone or bidding at all."