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WC: Allahabad native behind US team's success

June 26, 2010 22:13 IST

The American football team's success in the World Cup has an Indian connection.

Sunil Gulati, an Indian-American native of Allahabad, who currently heads the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), is being credited for the US soccer team's rise.

For the US team, winning a World Cup game was considered highly unlikely before the start of the tournament in South Africa this month. But the team made history and rejuvenated the entire country after they defeated Algeria 1-0 on Wednesday to qualify for the pre-quarters.

And Gulati has been instrumental in preparing the right strategy for not only popularising soccer in the country of baseball, but also developing the team.

While former President Bill Clinton lost his voice cheering for the team at the stadium, ruling President Barack Obama heard the jubilation and the loud cheer that erupted into the White House press room after that one goal while he was discussing the Afghanistan war with General David Petraeus.

And Gulati, who was born in Allahabad on July 30, 1959, is being widely credited for football fever gripping America right now.

Gulati grew up playing football in Nebraska. The POI, who served as USSF vice president for six years, was elected as its president in March 2006.

"Over the past decade, a platform for this sport has been built that did not previously exist, and we now have an opportunity in the coming years to achieve more for soccer in the United States than anyone could have ever envisioned 10 or 15 or even five years ago," Gulati had said after being elected at the USSF President.

Former USSF president and Major League Soccer founder Alan Rothenberg has called Gulati the "single most important person in the development of soccer" in the country. It is he who appointed the current US soccer coach Bob Bradley.

In February this year, he was unanimously re-elected the USSF president.

"We've seen significant growth of soccer in the United States in the past 25 years and we have the opportunity to continue that progress. I look forward to that process," Gulati said.

Gulati's next goal is to bring the World Cup to USA. As chairman of the USA Bid Committee, Gulati is spearheading the USA's effort to earn the right to play host to the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

A veteran of the process after also serving on the bid committee for the FIFA World Cup, Gulati is qualified to help bring the world's game back to the shores of the United States, the USSF says.

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