Steve Caspers, one of the most influential executives in soccer during the go-go years of the North American Soccer League, has died of a heart attack in Florida.
Caspers served as president of NASL Marketing, beginning in 1975, and was responsible for overseeing its television and marketing operations. Caspers worked closely with NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam through the Pele years (1975-77) and during the expansion of the NASL to 24 years in 1978.
After they left the NASL, Caspers and Woosnam remained deeply involved in American soccer. They had close ties to the late Werner Fricker, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation who was instrumental in getting the 1994 World Cup awarded to the United States in 1988.
As principals of C&W Associates, Caspers and Woosnam handled the USSF's marketing interests in the late 1980s. They were later part of USA Soccer Properties, which ran into conflict with FIFA over a TV deal with NBC covering rights to the U.S. national team and the 1994 World Cup and over the involvement of another USA Soccer Properties principal Patrick Nally, who was out of favor with FIFA. The conflict ultimately caused a rift in the relations between Fricker and FIFA, which led to FIFA backing Alan Rothenberg in his successful campaign to unseat Fricker in 1990.
Soccer USA Partners (SUSAP), backed by the London communications company Aegis Group, succeeded USA Soccer Properties, leading to the ouster of Caspers and Woosnam, who later successfully sued.
MLS presidents Kevin Payne (D.C. United) and John Guppy (Chicago Fire) both came out of SUSAP.
Before becoming involved in soccer, Caspers worked in sales for ABC and as an advertising executive on Madison Avenue.