Don Garber has been MLS commissioner since 1999. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
CHICAGO – U.S. Soccer Friday named Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber as the 2022 winner of the Werner Fricker Builder Award.
Garber has served as the league’s commissioner since 1999 and has played a crucial role in growing the sport in North America during his tenure.
The Werner Fricker Builder Award, named after a former U.S. Soccer president, 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. First awarded in 2002, the award recognizes those who have developed programs that will outlast their own involvement in the sport.
“We’re immensely proud to add Don Garber to this distinguished list of contributors to the game in our country,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “When the history of the unprecedented growth of our sport in the United States during the past two decades is written, Don will be among the giants whose profound impact forever changed its trajectory. He deserves our admiration and our gratitude.”
Throughout Garber’s 23-year tenure, MLS has expanded from 10 to 29 clubs, added new owners and secured long-term agreements with major broadcast outlets in the U.S. and throughout the world. Garber also has led efforts to develop 26 soccer-specific stadiums in the United States and Canada, with more set to open in the next few years. In 2019, he confirmed that the league would look to expand to 30 teams.
One of Garber’s marquee accomplishments was the establishment of Soccer United Marketing in 2002, which serves as the marketing arm of MLS and manages commercial rights for the league as well as various other soccer properties like Concacaf and the Mexican Soccer Federation. Garber serves as the CEO of SUM, which was also the exclusive marketing partner of U.S. Soccer for 20 years.
Fricker served as U.S. Soccer President from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992. He is widely credited for playing a major role in bringing the 1994 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 and was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team.
The U.S. Soccer president appoints the Werner Fricker Task Force to review award nominations. The nomination and consideration process takes place annually with a maximum of one award given each year; however, the selection committee is not required to bestow the award annually.
WERNER FRICKER AWARD RECIPIENTS
2002 Werner Fricker, Sr.
2003 Sunil Gulati
2005 Gerhard Mengel
2006 Sal Rapaglia
2007 Francisco Marcos
2008 Bob Gansler
2009 Alan Rothenberg
2010 Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia
2011 Kevin Payne
2012 Hank Steinbrecher
2014 Richard Groff
2015 Bruce Arena
2016 Anson Dorrance
2017 Mary Harvey
2018 Tony DiCicco
2019 April Heinrichs
2020 Esse Baharmast
2022 Don Garber