Soccer is the
most global game in sports and Americans haven’t held tremendous sway abroad
historically, but with time, that’s begun to change. Here’s a look at some of
the most influential Americans in the soccer world.
As the first American-born member of the FIFA executive committee, Blazer has influence over everything from appointing U.S. representatives to FIFA committees to voting on where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be held. As CONCACAF’s general secretary, he has a voice in the region’s international competition and manages two growing soccer properties, the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
four years as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the Columbia University
professor of economics has become the face of the organization abroad. He is a
member of FIFA’s strategic, Confederations Cup and ticketing subcommittees and
is the driving force behind
soccer’s bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
chief executive changed the dynamics of international soccer by pushing to have
the designated player rule adopted and bringing international stars to MLS.
Afterward, he stood toe-to-toe with Italian club AC Milan over David Beckham. AEG’s international interests, with
venues everywhere from London to Shanghai, makesLeiweke a force abroad.
his family have become the faces of American ownership abroad and they may be
influential for all the wrong reasons. The family purchased
Manchester United, the world’s most valuable soccer club, in 2005 and have
since come under fire for loading the club up with $1.3 billion in debt.
has become the face of
soccer abroad following his successful loan to English club Everton where he
proved he could excel at a top European league. His involvement in the
as one of the driving voices in soccer’s recent labor dispute highlights his
business interest and acumen.
As founder of Wasserman Media
Group, Wasserman oversees the management of some 250 soccer players worldwide,
including British stars Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard.
He played an important role behind the scenes in bringing Bill Clinton on board
as the honorary chairman of the
bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
his 11 years as MLS commissioner, Garber has steadily extended his influence
overseas. He has led Soccer United Marketing’s efforts to forge ties with
FC Barcelona, and he will become an important voice in global soccer as
European leagues look to control player costs in the future. He also is a
member of FIFA’s Club World Cup committee.
ago, Skipper placed a huge bet that soccer could be a success for ESPN. The
company’s executive vice president of content has since worked with ESPN
International head Russell Wolff to acquire rights to
’s La Liga
and the English Premier League. His interest in soccer, and ESPN’s $100 million
investment in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, have made Skipper a recognizable
and well-regarded figure among FIFA’s leadership.
The head of
Fox Sports is beginning to take a personal interest in Fox Soccer Channel.
Fox’s decision to broadcast the recent UEFA Champions League final underscores
Hill’s interest in the sport. Look for him to become more involved abroad as he
looks for ways for the network to tap the sport’s growth.
Colorado-based billionaire keeps a low profile as the largest owner of club
Arsenal (with a 29.8 percent stake). Since his investment, the team has worked
to cultivate its business in Asia and improve
its new media offerings. Not surprisingly, Arsenal also has one of the English
Premier League’s few American-groomed chief executives, Ivan Gazidis.
— Compiled by Tripp Mickle