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Don Garber beefs up MLS and SUM
by Ridge Mahoney, December 11th, 2007 7AM

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Since he left NFL Europe to assume the helm of Major League Soccer in 1999, Don Garber has expanded the reach of the league internally as well as among its ownership group. He has added executives from other American sports leagues, including the NFL.

Former NFL employee Doug Quinn is president of Soccer United Marketing (SUM), formed by MLS executives in 2001 to market and promote what has become a growing list of soccer events and properties.

They include representation and alliances with U.S. Soccer , the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Mexican Soccer Federation, and managing the Interliga and SuperLiga competitions.

SUM will organize and promote U.S. tours by Barcelona and Real Madrid next year.

Garber values soccer expertise as well as business acumen, which is reflected in personnel moves announced Monday.

Former SUM vice president Nelson Rodriguez is taking on a larger role in MLS operations as senior vice president of strategic business development, a role in which he will work closely with Garber and league president Mark Abbott in the planning and strategic decisions for both MLS and SUM.

Another veteran of the NFL's foreign forays, William Wilson, has been named executive vice president of international business & special events. He comes to MLS/SUM after stints with NFL Mexico (as managing director) and in NFL Europe as general manager of the Scottish Claymores.

Wilson, 40, was born in London and holds an MBA from the Tecnológico de Monterrey Graduate School of Business (EGADE) in Monterrey, Mexico.

Like Rodriguez he speaks fluent Spanish as well as English.

Rodriguez, 42, has worked for MLS and SUM since leaving the MetroStars, for which he was director of soccer operations, in 2000, and joined the league's staff four years ago. He coached Lafayette College from 1995 to 1997 before joining the Metros.

In the modern parlance, he's a soccer guy, and this move is a reward for his role in expanding and upgrading the SUM portfolio. It's a promotion not in the marketing sense, but per achievement.

"We're pleased to elevate Nelson Rodriguez into a new role in the commissioner's office and add a seasoned executive in Will Wilson, who will help us continue the evolution of our international business," Garber said in a release announcing the moves.

"Due to the significant growth in the business of both MLS and SUM, we needed to have additional oversight of our business on an enterprise-wide basis and Nelson is perfect fit for this new position."

 



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