Rocco Commisso: “By refusing to definitively address his future plans, Mr. Gulati is putting self-preservation ahead of his duty to our federation.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)

By Michael Lewis Editor

For the second time in three days, Rocco B. Commisso has verbally attacked U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

Commisso, the Cosmos owner and chairman of the North American Soccer League, again called for Gulati’s resignation, he said in a statement released by the club Friday.

In a conference call earlier in the day, Gulati said that he would not resign and had not made a decision on whether he was going to run for a fourth term. The election will be held at the U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting in Orlando, Fla. in February.

“By refusing to definitively address his future plans, Mr. Gulati is putting self-preservation ahead of his duty to our federation,” Commisso said in his statement. “His public acknowledgement of shared responsibility for the national team’s disastrous failure to qualify is meaningless unless there is a personal consequence to him reflective of the seriousness of the debacle he presided over.”

The U.S. failed in its bid to qualify for the World Cup for an eighth consecutive time Tuesday night, falling to Trinidad & Tobago in the final CONCACAF Hexagonal.

“Sunil Gulati’s role as a U.S. Soccer power broker has outlasted three U.S. presidents,” Commisso said. “During his reign as president of the federation, the performance of the U.S. men’s national team has fallen to its lowest point in 30 years. The responsibility for the American men’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the last two Olympic Games must land at Mr. Gulati’s feet.

“In a similar situation, the French team’s performance at the 2010 World Cup which was widely perceived as a ‘fiasco,’ the president of the French Football Federation, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, not only accepted responsibility but also recognized that the failure created a ‘duty to resign from my role as president of the French Football Federation.’ ”

Commisso, who called for Gulati’s resignation Wednesday, noted that U.S. head coach Bruce Arena had stepped down earlier Friday.

“Coach Arena took a harder, but much more honorable route,” Commisso said. “Mr. Gulati should do what is necessary and appropriate:  resign.  Not only would that be the right thing to do, it would also allow new leadership to begin fixing the systemic problems that plague the beautiful game played and followed by tens of millions of Americans.

The NASL has filed a temporary injunction against U.S. Soccer, which took away the league’s Division 2 status for 2018. A ruling in United States District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, N.Y. is expected on or before Oct. 31. The league also has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the federation.