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US team owes its rise to Allahabad-born Sunil Gulati
Indian whips up football frenzy in baseball bastion

Washington, June 26
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 with the team’s rise.

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 it defeated Algeria 1-0 on Wednesday to qualify for the pre-quarters. While former President Bill Clinton lost his voice cheering for the team at the stadium, Barack Obama heard the jubilation that erupted in the White House Press Room after that one goal while he was discussing the Afghanistan war with General David Petraeus.

Gulati, who was born in Allahabad on July 30, 1959, has been instrumental in preparing the right strategy for not only popularising soccer in the country of baseball but also developing the team. He grew up playing football in Nebraska, who served as the USSF vice-president for six years before being elected its president in March 2006.

"Across 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 US than anyone could have ever envisioned 15 or 10 or even five years ago," Gulati had said after being elected as 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.

In February this year, Gulati was unanimously re-elected the USSF president. “We’ve seen significant growth of soccer in the US in the past 25 years and we have the opportunity to continue that progress. I look forward to that process,” Gulati said. — PTI





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