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 77)
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 lawyer and sports executive. He is known for his contributions to and influence on the growth of soccer in the United States. He 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. He is a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee.[1]

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."[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

In 1998, Rothenberg headed a bid by the Japanese advertising agency Dentsu to buy the San Jose Clash of MLS,[5] but was forced to pull out at a late date due to the Asian stock market crisis.[6]


Rothenberg was also an important figure in professional basketball for many years, first as an executive and legal counsel for the Los Angeles Lakers when they were owned by Jack Kent Cooke, and later 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 in 1989–1990 he served as president of the California State Bar.[8][9][10][11][12] Before his 2010 resignation, he was president of the Los Angeles World Airports Commission.[13]

In 2004 Rothenberg founded 1st Century Bank, a community bank with offices on the Westside Los Angeles area catering to small businesses and professionals. Rothenberg serves as chairman of the bank, which was acquired by Oklahoma City-based MidFirst Bank in early 2016.[14] Earlier in his career, Rothenberg was a co-founder (along with his then law partner Chuck Manatt) of First Los Angeles Bank, which was sold to City National Bank in 1995.[15] Rothenberg also serves on several corporate and public boards.[16]


  1. ^ "Independent Ethics Committee". FIFA. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  2. ^ profile of Rothenberg
  3. ^ Associated Press profile
  4. ^ CONCACAF's chart of organization hierarchy
  5. ^ MLS press release, issued prior to collapse of deal.
  6. ^ Soccer America article noting that Dentsu "nearly bought" the SJ Clash.
  7. ^ Alexander Wolff, "They're Trying To Trim The Lakers' Sales", Sports Illustrated, December 3, 1984
  8. ^ Louis Sahagun, "L.A. Lawyer Elected Head of State Bar", Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1989.
  9. ^ Linda Darnell Williams, "Manatt Phelps' Rothenberg Goes to Latham & Watkins", Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1990.
  10. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg, Retired Partner at Latham & Watkins website (retrieved October 29, 2009).[dead link]
  11. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg, Esq. (ADR Services, Inc.) Archived July 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Alan I. Rothenberg (USC Marshall School of Business Biographies)
  13. ^ Dan Weikel, "Alan Rothenberg cites potential business conflicts in quitting airport commission", Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2010.
  14. ^ James Rufus Koren, "Oklahoma bank to buy L.A.'s 1st Century", Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2016.
  15. ^ Marc Lacter, "Money markets: wealthy clients, hefty profits, great networking--no wonder boutique banks have L.A.'s connected class clamoring to buy in." Los Angeles, February 1, 2007  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  16. ^ Alan Rothenberg, California CEO Forum (accessed 2016-05-20).
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