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Alan Rothenberg

Alan Rothenberg may well go down in history as being one of the pioneers and major contributors of soccer in the United States. It might also be noted that he could have done without soccer in the United States, but U.S. soccer couldn't have done as well without ALAN ROTHENBERG.

 

 

ALAN ROTHENBERG - "America's GODFATHER of Soccer"

James Loving - National Radio Text Service

He was the commissioner of soccer for the 1984 Olympic soccer tournament. He is the FOUNDER and chairman of Major League Soccer [MLS]. Rothenberg was instrumental in bringing the successful Women's World Cup to America. Among his credits, he served as the President of the U.S. Soccer Federation for eight years. He was Chairman and CEO of World Cup USA in 1994, which became the most successful event in FIFA history. His efforts helped contribute to a World Cup operating surplus of more than $50 million that serves as the initial funding source for the U.S. Soccer Foundation

 

Juily 1999

THE GODFATHER OF US SOCCER

It could easily be said that soccer or football, as it is recognized internationally, is the world's most popular sport. In America, soccer is in its infancy. ALAN ROTHENBERG could be called the GODFATHER of soccer in the United States. In his 25-plus years with his involvement in the game, he has staged some of the biggest soccer events ever held in the country.

He was the commissioner of soccer for the 1984 Olympic soccer tournament. He is the FOUNDER and chairman of Major League Soccer [MLS], U.S. soccer's Division 1 outdoors professional soccer league that is now in its fourth season.

He was instrumental in bringing the successful Women's World Cup to America. Among his credits, he has served as the President of the U.S. Soccer Federation for eight years. He was Chairman and CEO of World Cup USA in 1994, which became the most successful event in FIFA history.

His efforts have helped contribute to a World Cup operating surplus of more than $50 million that serves as the initial funding source for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The Foundation was organized to administer the World Cup surplus, as well to fund vital soccer programs in the U.S.

The World Cup final match between China and the United States capped the overwhelming success and exemplified the popularity of women's soccer. A huge crowd in excess of 90,000 crammed the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California bringing to fruition the dream for the women's game… a high level of interest.

You could say that Rothenberg is a visionary. Before the Women's World Cup was held, he talked about how staging the event in the United States came about with his wishes to think BIG and NOT SMALL.

"When FIFA first talked about us bidding for it, they were thinking small," he said. "They wanted four stadiums all in the northeast. We said we think this country and this sport is ready to go big time. Please let us do it in big cities and big stadiums and do it as a major event.

"I felt from a sporting standpoint and really from a social standpoint, it was important for us to get behind the women's program as strongly as we had been behind the men's program. That's what motivated us to go and do it."

Rothenberg had his way and the World Cup was staged on both coasts and America's midwest region. The games were well received and reached its zenith with the championship game between China and the U.S. Rothenberg was enthused about the skills of the WORLD CUP CHAMPION U.S. women's team.

"The joy is there is, probably is no soccer team anywhere, man or women, that plays the game so beautifully as our team plays. When they're on a roll…[they play soccer]…it's kind of like…the Brazilian men when they're on [a roll]. That's the comparability in the style and beauty of play.

"We're so proud of our US team they're the best in the world. They play soccer the way it's supposed to be played.

"When you see them in high gear, the kind of team work and full team play…; I guess it's kind of like, as you recall, I had the [Los Angeles] Aztecs back in the 70's. There's a great similarity between that and the way our women's team plays. All the players on the field are working together playing fabulous football."

In addition to his ownership of the Aztecs in the North American Soccer League from 1977-80, he held the position of General Manager and counselor to the Los Angeles Wolves of the United Soccer Association.

The 59-year-old Rothenberg was a former president of the State Bar of California. He has chaired the American Bar Association's Committee on Sports Law. His 30-year background as a lawyer has served him well in sports.

He was Vice President and General Counsel for Jack Kent Cooke, Inc., a cable television company and California Sports Inc., the then parent company for the LA Lakers and the National Hockey Leagues LA Kings and the Forum.

Credentials, you want sports credentials! Rothenberg also served 15 years on the Board of Governors for the National Basketball League (representing the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers, at different times), and was President of the Clippers from 1982 to 1989.

With that said Rothenberg knows a lot about sports and he has a good grip on what's going on with soccer in the United States.

"There is a great interest in soccer that is always underestimated by the general public," he continued. I think this country has a real belief in and a real passion for soccer.

"I also think this country loves big events. And so if you marry the two and you have soccer and you make it a big, fun exciting event, people will want to come out and enjoy it."

Rothenberg may well go down in history as being one of the pioneers and major contributors of soccer in the United States. It might also be noted that Rothenberg could have done without soccer in the United States, but U.S. soccer couldn't have done as well without ALAN ROTHENBERG.

* * *

With a mass exodus of their players, the Los Angeles Clippers' number-one draft pick LAMAR ODOM could be their biggest find ever. In the past 10 years, the Clips have had the league's overall number-one pick twice. They got Odom as the fourth overall pick. It was a surprise to some because, prior to Odom's no-show for NBA tryout's, he was considered the best talent in the draft. When you factor in that he had one year of college playing experience and is only 19 years old, you could say of the Clippers… "THEY LUCKY" ahhhh maybe.

"I guess God wanted me to be a LA Clipper," USA Today reported Odom as saying. "They've got to start somewhere. Hopefully it's with me."

Hey!!! Well now… The reality is that Clippers VP/GM ELGIN BAYLOR wanted Odom for Clipper-dome or he wouldn't be there. Baylor told the LA Times that Odom's indecisiveness and no shows could be a result of Odom not having someone to talk to.

His father left home when Odom was just 6 years old. His mother died of cancer when he was 12. His grandmother raised him. If Baylor can see a HALF FULL, rather than a half empty glass in Odom's value, the Clippers could turn the corner of respectability.

Odom noted that the Clippers have a strong front line of young talent with center MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI and MAURICE TAYLOR. When both of those players were drafted by the Clippers, they expressed to this reporter that they weren't concerned about the Clippers past. They expressed that their preference was to focus on success and winning [in the future]. If Odom feels the same way, the Clippers are heading in the right direction.

The teams mass free agent departures now gives these young talented players a chance to blend together and form a NEW ATTITUDE and throw away the gloom of the Clippers past. If Baylor can provide THAT someone to talk to person that he feels Odom is missing, then the Clippers have a foundation for winning ways and winning attitudes for the future.

* * *

SERENA WILLIAMS has returned to her hometown and is competing in the Acura Classic in the Manhattan Beach section of Los Angeles, California this week [August 9-15]. The 17-year-old joins top ranked MARTINA HINGIS, LINDSAY DAVENPORT, MONICA SELES and ARANTXA-SANCHEZ-VICARIO in the competition for $500,000 in prize money.

Williams has quickly climbed in the rankings since joining the WTA tour in October 1997. She was then ranked 453 [Go To Feature Archives: "WTA Teen Queens" &. "Williams [We Are] Family"].

In that time, she placed her name in the record books when she bested five top-10 players in just 17 main-draw singles matches. Monica Seles, who accomplished the task in 33 matches, held the previous record.

* * *

DID YOU KNOW???: Did you know former San Antonio Spurs legend GEORGE "Ice Man" GERVIN was a Chicago Bull? The NBA Hall of Fame player finished his 14-year ABA/NBA professional career as a member of the Bulls 1995-96 team. It was Michael Jordan's second season in the league. The Bulls finished fourth in the Central division with a, 30-52 record, 27 games behind the division leader Milwaukee Bucks.

Gervin had enough GIT in his GITTY-UP to average 16.2 ppg. He had a high game of 45 points. Jordan averaged 22.7 ppg that season with a high game of 33. Jordan played in ONLY 18 regular season games that season.

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