U.S. Soccer Chief Operating Officer Jay Berhalter
, one of the most influential persons in American soccer, is
leaving the federations to head up the Kentaro Group's new office in the United States.
Berhalter, 38, will run the U.S. operations of the Swiss-headquartered company that
handles media rights for many soccer federations -- including global rights for U.S. Soccer -- and also organizes all friendly matches of the Brazil national team.
thrilled to open our office in Chicago and welcome one of the most knowledgeable U.S. [soccer] business executives to our organization," said Kentaro joint-CEO Philipp Grothe
. "We have great belief in the U.S. [soccer] market and have ambitious plans to further the growth of the sport in the States. With his unique experience and network
of contacts, Jay will lead Kentaro's expansion into North America." Jay Berhalter,
the older brother of Los Angeles Galaxy defender
, graduated from Notre Dame and worked for the 1994 World Cup organizing committee.
''I started as a volunteer and
several months later was hired in transportation,'' he says. ''Because the business infrastructure in the sport was just starting to develop at the time, many of us got the
opportunity to experience multiple aspects of the event and learn about overall event management in a very hands-on manner. Each day was really a chance to learn and to apply that towards managing a
process to help the event succeed.''
After the launch of MLS, he joined the MetroStars, where he worked until moving to the U.S. Soccer Foundation in 1998. He joined U.S.
Soccer in 2000 when Dan Flynn
left the Foundation to become U.S. Soccer's executive director and general secretary.
One of the early and
most successful projects Berhalter helped head up was the organization of the 2003 Women's World Cup. Along with many members of the U.S. Soccer staff, he pulled double-duty, organizing the 2003
Women's World Cup after China was forced to withdraw as host because of the SARS scare.