Mark Abbott / President and Deputy Commissioner, Major League Soccer
The architect of Major League Soccer’s business plan, Mark Abbott was named president and deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer on June 19, 2013. He has been instrumental in many of the League’s accomplishments since he became the organization’s first employee in 1993, three years before MLS’ first season. As president and deputy commissioner, he leads and manages all areas of League operations and competition, including product strategy, player relations, strategic planning and communications. Abbott also leads a new business development group to address new areas of opportunity for the League and Soccer United Marketing.
Along with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Abbott is the league’s primary contact in discussions with potential investors and expansion cities.
Abbott was the principal author of the League’s business plan, ultimately approved by FIFA as a legacy of World Cup USA 1994, the most successful World Cup in history. He played a primary role in creating the League’s structure and negotiating with the initial investor-operator group.
As the League’s senior vice president of business affairs, he played a key role in the launch of MLS in 1996, earning the League the “Sports Industrialist of the Year” award from the Sports Business Daily industry publication. Abbott was promoted to chief operating officer in 1997 and became MLS president in 2006. He was named to Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 in both 2001 and 2002.
Prior to joining MLS, Abbott practiced law as an associate of MLS Founder Alan I. Rothenberg with Latham & Watkins, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and commercial law.
Abbott earned his law degree in 1989 from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Abbott was the Managing Editor of the California Law Review. Abbott is a 1986 graduate of Georgetown University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Foreign Service degree in international economics, cum laude, and an honors certificate in international business diplomacy.