Dan Flynn, CEO and secretary general, U.S. Soccer
As CEO and secretary general of U.S. Soccer for the last 13 years, Dan Flynn develops the organization’s business strategy. A former player at Saint Louis University, where he was part of an NCAA title team in 1973, Flynn previously spent more than a decade in sports marketing and management positions at Anheuser-Busch, where he was involved with the beer company’s sponsorship of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. With the men’s national team celebrating its centennial while playing seven more qualifying matches this year for the 2014 World Cup, and a women’s league starting up (again) — U.S. Soccer is organizing and administering the league — the 57-year-old Flynn is a busy man.
The match is what matters, but we’re expanding the footprint beyond the stadium and the 90 minutes of play.”
Lessons from A-B: You learn that it’s always about the people you hire and implementing a strategy. I’m proud of the growth we had in my time in the beer business and have a lot of fond memories about the passion and focus we brought to the job. I brought those lessons with me to U.S. Soccer.
From the pitch to the executive suite: When I was done as a player, I was done. Nothing duplicates that experience. But even as an executive, these games can be emotional. I just try to keep those emotions in check and control what I can control.
U.S. Soccer sponsorship: We have five major partners activating at our World Cup qualifiers: Budweiser, Castrol, McDonald’s, Allstate and, of course, Nike, with our centennial kits. Sponsorship continues to grow as the game in this country has grown.
A change in event philosophy: When we come to a city for a World Cup qualifier now, we’re having pep rallies the night before and other events. They won’t be revenue-centric, but it’s about creating an atmosphere around the matches.
On the eight-team National Women’s Soccer League, starting this spring: It takes a lot of people, along with some good timing, to make something work, and we’ve had a lot of starts and stops with women’s leagues. But we believe in it, so we’re going to keep on chopping wood. We’re running the league and subsidizing the salaries of 23 American players.
On Major League Soccer: MLS having two teams in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League is big for them and great for U.S. Soccer. We’re big supporters of MLS and proud of what they’ve accomplished over the last decade.