PANAMA CITY -- U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati was elected Friday to FIFA's executive committee, edging Mexican Football president Justino Compean by one vote.
"We welcome the new committee member," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.
Gulati won 18-17 in a balloting at the congress of North and Central American and Caribbean Football in Panama City, USSF spokesman Neil Buethe said.
Gulati was elected to a four-year term and will join soccer's 25-member ruling body at the FIFA Congress on May 30-31 in Mauritius. He will take the seat of fellow American Chuck Blazer, who had held it since 1997.
Compean received a resounding endorsement of his colleagues in Central America and a group of islands in the Caribbean, including Cuba and Dominican Republic, but it was not enough.
Blazer was elected 5-2 then by the CONCACAF executive committee following the death of Mexico's Guillermo Canedo.
The 53-year-old Gulati, a teacher in the economics department at Columbia University, has been the USSF president since 2006. He was instrumental in building the U.S. national team that qualified for the 1990 World Cup after a 40-year absence and is now vying for its seventh straight berth in football's showcase.
Gulati was an executive with the U.S. organizers of the 1994 World Cup, Major League Soccer, and the parent company of MLS's New England Revolution, and he served on the boards of the 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups. He also helped run the failed bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
"The game is growing tremendously in our region both on and off the field, and I hope to do my part to continue to expand the development of the game for both CONCACAF and FIFA," he said in a statement.
Blazer, the former secretary general of CONCACAF, decided not to run for re-election. Two years ago, Blazer accused then-CONCACAF president Jack Warner of corruption. Warner and Blazer resigned later in December 2011 and a report from a CONCACAF committee Friday accused both of enriching themselves through fraud.