Former U.S. national team goalkeeper Mary Harvey Tuesday was named the 2017 winner of U.S. Soccer’s prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award.
Harvey is a 1991 Women’s World Cup champion, 1996 Olympic gold medalist and longtime advocate for the sport.
As U.S. Soccer’s highest honor, the Fricker Award is given to an individual or group of individuals who dedicate at least 20 years of service to the sport, working to establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States. The award recognizes those who have developed programs that will outlast their own involvement in the sport. Harvey becomes the first woman to receive the award since its inception in 2002.
“It’s a great pleasure to present the Werner Fricker Builder Award to a member of our first FIFA Women’s World Cup title team and someone who has dedicated her life to positively impacting the game,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “Mary’s determination over the past three decades has paved the way for the advancement of youth and women’s soccer, not only in the United States but across the world. Her work reflects her passion for the game, which transcends the sport to our everyday society. Her legacy as an all-star on and off the field will be cemented into U.S. Soccer’s foundation for many years to come.”
A member of the U.S. national team from 1989-1996, Harvey played a pivotal role in the USA’s first Women’s World Cup title at FIFA’s inaugural world championship for women’s soccer in 1991. The USA set the standard for future U.S. teams, defeating Norway, 2-1 in the championship game played in Guangzhou, China. Harvey played every minute of all six games in goal and recorded three shutouts. She finished her international career in 1996 on a high note after winning a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award, and to be selected by a committee of such esteemed builders of the sport themselves,” Harvey said. “It is particularly meaningful to receive the award bearing Werner Fricker’s name. A giant of the game, Werner was the president of the Federation when I first made the national team, and I had the pleasure of serving with him on the U.S. Soccer board of directors. To receive this recognition is a tremendous honor, particularly in light of the many others who have given so much of themselves to the game.”
Harvey was one of the first American female players to ply her trade overseas, moving to Germany in 1988 where she played with FSV Frankfurt in the new Damen Bundesliga. She won the German National Cup in 1990 and the Bundesliga Championship for the southern division in 1991. She then transferred to Hammarby IF in Stockholm, Sweden for the 1993 season, before joining U.S. teammates Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly at Sweden’s Tyreso Football Club in 1994.
Off the field in 1992, Harvey was elected by fellow players to serve on the U.S. Soccer board of directors as their representative. She would go on to serve for the next 11 years, including five years on the executive committee. She became a player advocate, establishing the U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council and leading the task force charged with writing the U.S. Soccer Player Bill of Rights.
After completing her MBA and working in the management consulting industry, Harvey was hired in 2003 by FIFA to lead its Development Division – the first woman to lead a division for soccer’s international governing body – overseeing a quadrennial budget of $640 million and team of 70 people located in 13 offices around the globe. She held the role until 2008, and some of her many accomplishments during her five-year tenure include implementing extensive reforms to FIFA’s financial assistance program, convincing senior leadership to establish the U-17 Women’s World Cup, and creating incentives to establish sport legacy programs for countries applying to host FIFA’s women’s competitions.
Harvey’s work at FIFA eventually led to being appointed Chief Operating Officer for Women’s Professional Soccer, a role she held from 2008 to 2010. During that time, she brought league operations from startup to full operation, led the process to implement operating standards for all teams and the signing of all 150+ players into the league.
In 2012, she founded Ripple Effect Consulting, a consultancy for organizations using sport to drive social and environmental change. Through this agency, Harvey has influenced a variety of organizations, from FIFA to the U.S. Department of State. At FIFA, she helped drive the #WomenInFIFA campaign, a global media campaign calling for gender equity and inclusion as a core tenet of reform at the sport’s governing body. As a Sport Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, Harvey has led multiple sport diplomacy missions to the Middle East, engaging local communities to promote acceptance and inclusion of refugee and marginalized populations, as well as empowerment and access to sport for women and girls.
An active environmentalist, Harvey is also the vice chair of the board of directors for the Green Sports Alliance, a US-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring professional sports leagues, teams, venues, their partners and fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices.
Throughout her nearly three-decade involvement with the sport, Harvey has gone above and beyond to leave her mark on the game all over the world.
“I’ve always felt I received so much more from the game than I’ve given, and I owe that to my teammates, fellow athletes, U.S. Soccer, FIFA, members of the extraordinary U.S. Foreign Service and the many people I’ve had the pleasure to work with around the world to build the game,” Harvey said. “Any contributions I’ve made since playing is my way of expressing a love of the game that has given me so much.”
The award is named for Werner Fricker who served as U.S. Soccer President from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992. Fricker is widely credited for playing a major role in bringing the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States. Born in Yugoslavia and raised in Austria, Fricker lived his adult life in Pennsylvania, where he was a star midfielder for the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia soccer club from 1954 to 1969.
The U.S. Soccer president appoints a task force each year to review nominations and select a Werner Fricker Award winner.
2002 Werner Fricker Sr.
2003 Sunil Gulati
2004 Honor not awarded
2005 Gerhard Mengel
2006 Sal Rapaglia
2007 Francisco Marcos
2008 Bob Gansler
2009 Alan Rothenberg
2010 Bob Contiguglia
2011 Kevin Payne
2012 Hank Steinbrecher
2013 Honor not awarded
2014 Richard Groff
2015 Bruce Arena
2016 Anson Dorrance
2017 Mary Harvey