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Soccer's leading economist

Joshua Robinson writes about the new president of U.S. Soccer, in today's NY Times:

Sunil Gulati discusses the future of soccer the same way he addresses his Principles of Economics class at Columbia University. When he is asked about the viability of a professional women's league, Gulati, a 46-year-old economist and the newly elected president of the United States Soccer Federation, answers: "There's no right to exist, so to speak, of any sports venture, or any business venture, for that matter. In the end, the market will decide."

He offers the same kind of response when asked about the success of Major League Soccer. "It comes down to two things: one is economics and the other is the quality of the league itself, which is obviously related to economics."

...Gulati, who served six years as vice president of the United States federation, was elected president by the membership of U.S. Soccer, the sport's governing body. He sees his four-year term as a chance to pursue initiatives in international relations, diversity and media growth, all with an eye to playing host to major events. But for every change he tries to implement, he knows he will face the same problem.

"There is no model," Gulati said. "Not many countries have the sort of competition we have for entertainment dollars, the geography we have in the U.S., and the role of education. The solutions we've got to have in soccer must be very different than they are elsewhere."