Alan Rothenberg

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Alan Rothenberg
President of the U.S. Soccer Federation
In office
Preceded by Werner Fricker
Succeeded by Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia
Personal details
Born (1939-04-10) April 10, 1939 (age 76)
Detroit, MI, US
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Lawyer

Alan I. Rothenberg (born April 10, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American administrative figure credited for greatly contributing to and influencing the growth of soccer in the United States, and is the namesake of the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy, which was awarded annually to the winner of the MLS Cup from 1996 to 1999. Rothenberg was president of U.S. Soccer (the governing body of American soccer) during the 1990s and oversaw the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States and the establishment of Major League Soccer in 1996. In 2007, Rothenberg was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in recognition of his contribution as a "Builder" of the sport in the United States.

Early career[edit]

Born in 1939, Rothenberg is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. He was a fan and follower of traditional American sports who had no experience with soccer until the age of 28, when he came into contact with the nascent North American Soccer League while serving as a lawyer for Jack Kent Cooke. Cooke, who owned several sports teams, had also acquired the NASL's Los Angeles Wolves, a short-lived team that lasted only until 1968.


Almost ten years after the folding of the Wolves, Rothenberg headed an investment group that bought the Los Angeles Aztecs, a newer club in the same league, but he sold the team after three seasons in 1980, thus escaping the later collapse of the league. Rothenberg later stated that his timing in buying the team had simply been wrong — "I mistakenly thought the time was right and three years later I realized that the time was wrong. I liked soccer, thought it was a great opportunity then, and thought it was now."[1]

In 1984, Rothenberg was asked by Peter Ueberroth, then serving as the organizer of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, to take on the role of commissioner of soccer for the Olympic Games. The unexpected popularity of soccer that summer — including multiple sell-outs of the 100,000+ seat Rose Bowl — established before the world that an American audience for the game existed.[citation needed]

Rothenberg's success in the capacity of commissioner caused FIFA to seek out his services as director of the 1994 World Cup, which FIFA had decided award to the USA. In 1990, with FIFA's backing, Rothenberg defeated the unpopular incumbent Werner Fricker in an election for the Presidency of the United States Soccer Federation.[citation needed] Under Rothenberg's guidance, the 1994 World Cup was a major success, setting records for attendance[citation needed] among other things.[vague] Fulfilling a promise to FIFA made as part of the World Cup bid, Rothernberg oversaw the establishment of Major League Soccer, the first full-time Division I U.S. league since the NASL. Rothenberg was also the major force behind the inception of Project 2010.[2] Rothenberg served as President of the U.S. Soccer Federation for two four-year terms until 1998, when term limits forced him to step down from the post.

Rothenberg remains a member of the USSF executive committee, and is also one of three Vice Presidents of CONCACAF.[3]

In 1998, Rothenberg headed a bid by the Japanese advertising agency Dentsu to buy the San Jose Clash of MLS,[4] but was forced to pull out at a late date due to the Asian stock market crisis.[5]


Rothenberg is the Chairman of 1st Century Bank, a community bank catering to small businesses and professionals. The bank is headquartered in the Century City area of Los Angeles, with a full service business bank in Century City, CA, and relationship offices in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, CA. Rothenberg also serves on several corporate and public boards.[6] Rothenberg was also an important figure in professional basketball for many years, first representing Jack Kent Cooke's Lakers and subsequently acting as president of Donald Sterling's Los Angeles Clippers[7] from 1982-1989. Rothenberg was a partner in the Los Angeles offices of the law firms Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips and Latham & Watkins, and served as president of the California State Bar.[8][9][10] He is also President of the Los Angeles World Airports Commission.


  1. ^ profile of Rothenberg
  2. ^ Associated Press profile
  3. ^ CONCACAF's chart of organization hierarchy
  4. ^ MLS press release, issued prior to collapse of deal.
  5. ^ Soccer America article noting that Dentsu "nearly bought" the SJ Clash.
  6. ^ 1st Century Bank - Los Angeles, CA
  7. ^ Alexander Wolff, "They're Trying To Trim The Lakers' Sales", Sports Illustrated, December 3, 1984
  8. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg, Retired Partner at Latham & Watkins website (retrieved October 29, 2009).
  9. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg, Esq. (ADR Services, Inc.)
  10. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg (USC Marshall Sports Institute Biographies)
Preceded by
Antonio Matarrese
FIFA World Cup Chief Organizer
Succeeded by
Fernand Sastre with
Michel Platini
Preceded by
Werner Fricker
President of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF)
Succeeded by
Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia