SA columnist Paul Gardner to be honored with United Soccer Coaches' inaugural Media Career of Excellence Award

Longtime Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner has been selected as the recipient of United Soccer Coaches' inaugural Media Career of Excellence Award.

The coaches association established the award to recognize a media professional for a distinguished career covering the events and issues of soccer in the United States.

“The legendary pioneer in American soccer journalism, Paul Gardner has kept us engaged through his columns and books for decades,” said United Soccer Coaches president Kevin Sims. “Through his passionate, opinionated, celebratory, provocative, controversial, and joyful musings, Paul has kept the American soccer community on the edge of its collective seat. What shines through is his deep regard for the purity of the beautiful game."

Gardner has written over 1,000 columns for Soccer America and been a contributor to World Soccer for 48 years.

He served as a color commentator for the first-ever live telecast of a World Cup final in the United States, on ABC in 1982, and served alongside Jim McKay calling NASL games from 1979-81. He did commentary for NBC at the 1986 World Cup, for CBS on NASL games, and college games on ESPN.

"He is as incorruptible as anyone I've ever worked with," McKay said of Gardner.

Gardner is the author of "The Simplest Game," which was first published in 1976 and has introduced soccer and all its nuances to countless readers. Before that, he wrote ''Nice Guys Finish Last: Sport and American Life,'' a remarkably insightful look at American sports. "Soccer Talk: Life Under the Spell of the Round Ball" is an anthology of Gardner's columns from Soccer America and publications including The Village Voice, The New York Times and The Observer.

Gardner was also the writer and soccer adviser to "Pele: The Master and His Method," the 1973 instructional video series from which many young Americans learned the game of soccer as it was just taking off in the United States.

A Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, Gardner emigrated from England to the USA in 1959. While managing editor of a medical magazine, he started covering American sports for British publications in 1961, when his feature on Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle’s pursuit of Babe Ruth's 60-home run record appeared in The Observer.

He left the medical magazine in 1964 and spent two years in Italy before returning to New York. The emergence of American pro soccer in the late 1960s coincided with Gardner’s start as a full-time free-lance journalist and he has since covered soccer for publications on both sides of the Atlantic. With fluency in Spanish, Italian and French, Gardner's reporting on global game has been uniquely expansive for an English-language journalist.

Gardner is well known for long having advocated for the inclusion of Latinos in American soccer, for action by soccer’s governing bodies to crack down on thuggish play, as well as detailed analysis and critique of soccer's rules. Eventually adopted by FIFA were his suggestions that the offside rule be changed so that an attacker in line with the last defender would be considered onside, how refs deliver second yellow cards, requiring numbers on the front of jerseys, and clarification on the ejection of coaches.

The Media Career of Excellence Award will be presented during the United Soccer Coaches' Awards Ceremony taking place Jan. 13, 2021 as part of the United Soccer Coaches Digital Convention.

7 comments about "SA columnist Paul Gardner to be honored with United Soccer Coaches' inaugural Media Career of Excellence Award".
  1. George Vecsey, October 28, 2020 at 10:49 a.m.

    Paul Gardner has been the Johnny Appleseed of soccer -- spreading the sport around this vast land. His words were the first to take soccer seriously for a mass audience. Plus, he cared so much, in his cranky-and literate-and -knowledgeable Paul-Gardner way that he dragged new readers into a world that could not be dismissed by jibes about 0-0 ties and not using the hands. Wel done, Coaches   
    George Vecsey. 

  2. Austin Gomez, October 28, 2020 at 4:29 p.m.

    Paul Gardner, whom I first met in the Dallas Cup Soccer Tournament in the 1980s, ( I was an Assessor and he being a future-distinguished writer for 'Soccer America' magazine), surely deserves this most prestigious AWARD and HONOR from the U.S.Coaches Organization ----- that is, "U.S. Coaches Inaugual Media Career of Excellence Award' ----- for many obvious worthy reasons: most CREATIVE, very INTRIGUING, brutally HONEST, quite PROVOCATIVE, fanstastically PERSISTENT, with his outstanding KNOWLEDGE ........ but (at times) INCORRECT on some Soccer Referee matters, (per se)! ......... But Paul can NOT be Correct about Eveything, now can He? ----- (LoL) ...... Overall, We 'Gladiators-of-Soccer' HAIL and SALUTE you, (as do so many Milllions of other avid Soccer Readers) for your CLEVERNESS and INTEGRITY and MEMORY and LOYALTY in/for this 'beautiful' GAME-of-SOCCER --- (whom we both all LOVE so much)!  The Greatest PRAISE and COMPLIMENT, that We Soccer-Readers can issue to Paul, would be:  We can Not wait for his next most INTERESTING 'Soccer-Article' Topic to be published! ............... 'AVE atque VALE'

  3. Wooden Ships, October 28, 2020 at 10:35 p.m.


  4. Bob Ashpole, October 28, 2020 at 10:56 p.m.

    Well deserved. Congratulations to Mr. Gardner.

  5. frank schoon, October 29, 2020 at noon

    The Pele Pepsi movie did so much for so many....GREAT !!!! I do lament that when they put it on Video/DVD they took out some great dribbling moves. I don't know if anyone remembers there was a black guy with a goatee,playing on the wing executing such a great move  keeping the ball between the legs, back and forth, making the defender go the opposite way.....furthermore I LOVED the passing techniques employed in the little circle....

    Thank You ,Paul.....You definitely were a catalyst in US soccer.....

  6. Ken Fadner, November 1, 2020 at 2:31 p.m.

    Congratulations Paul. So well deserved. All best.

    -Ken Fadner

  7. Kent James, November 1, 2020 at 10:26 p.m.

    Truly well-deserved.  I saw the Pele movie in the mid 1970s when I was first learning to play soccer, and it pushed me in the right direction ("the ball, and the master..").  I've been eagerly reading PG's columns for decades, and always appreciate both his thoughts on the game, and how eloquently he expresses them.  I do have one bone to pick; while I appreciate his desire to eliminate "thuggish" defense, he has never expressed any admiration for good (and non-thuggish) defense.  Good defense is part of the game, and pushes the offense to be better (raising the level for all of us). But generally speaking Paul, a lifetime of positive contributions to the game.  Well done.

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