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National Soccer Hall of Fame Elects Five New Members to Board of Directors

ONEONTA, N.Y. (Friday, May 25, 2001) - The National Soccer Hall of Fame announced five new board of director members at the Hall's annual meeting on Monday May 21st. Newly elected to the board are Michelle Akers, Tom Clarke, Sunil Gulati, Louis Hager and Lamar Hunt. They join Chairman Doug Willies, Gene Bettiol, Jr., George Brown, Scott Clark, Sandi Collins, Alan Donovan, Len Oliver, John Pontius, Hank Steinbrecher, and Joe Sutaris. Retiring from the Hall of Fame board are: Joe Forgiano, Tracey Ranieri, Phil Wilder and Brian Wright.

"The sport of Soccer has an important social influence in the USA and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta is something that all athletes, coaches and fans can be proud of. It's a great honor to join the Soccer Hall of Fame Board of Directors," said new Hall of Fame director Tom Clarke.

"We are excited to welcome our new board members. We had an inspiring two days focused on the next steps of our strategic plan, the primary objective of which is to develop the National Soccer Hall of Fame as one of America's major national sports museums," said Hall of Fame President/CEO Will Lunn. New board members Tom Clarke, Lamar Hunt and Lou Hager were in Oneonta to attend meetings Sunday and Monday, May 20-21.

Michelle Akers is soccer's first female superstar. She has won two Women's World Cups, an Olympic Gold Medal and was named Female Player of the Century 2000 by FIFA, soccer's world-wide governing body.

Tom Clarke joined Nike in the 1980s and became President in 1994. During his tenure at Nike, the firm made major inroads in the soccer market and realized significantly increased revenues. He retired in June 2000 and remains on Nike's board of directors.

Sunil Gulati is Vice President of U.S. Soccer and an important leader in the sport for the last ten years.

Lou Hager, owner of Northern Eagle Beverage, is a prominent area businessman with roots in Cooperstown.

Lamar Hunt is well known as a pioneer of football. He owns the Kansas City Chiefs and created the AFL in the 1960s. He is a founding investor in Major League Soccer operating both the Kansas City Wizards (2000 MLS Champions) and the Columbus Crew, but his soccer roots go back to the NASL. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1982.

The new board is another step in the organization's evolution. Hall of Famers George Brown and Len Oliver, as well as former U.S. Soccer Secretary General Hank Steinbrecher joined the board last year and with their input, the Hall staged a retreat in November 2000 to re-evaluate its mission. The result was a new strategic plan that identified the organization's goals and objectives for the next five years. Top among these objectives is to grow as a nationally recognized institution and to add to the quality of life in central New York by creating activity and economic growth twelve months per year. Expansion of the Hall of Fame facilities is key to these plans.

"Our new board members will help build support on the national level," Lunn said. Soccer Hall of Fame Board members come from across the country. They currently fly in from Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Orlando, Portland and Washington, D.C.

"Tom holds the distance record, he came from Nike's World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon," Lunn said. "Michelle and Sunil couldn't join us this time but will be here for the fall meeting," Lunn added.

Later this summer the Soccer Hall of Fame will announce a new initiative to finish its 61-acre campus and will unveil its Master Plan. Lunn elaborated, "A key element of this plan is to create an environ to stimulate interest in the men and women's game. We prominently promote scores, up-to-date standings, matches and historically significant artifacts and events from the men's and women's national teams, MLS and WUSA. We are adding collegiate and scholastic elements as well. Our role is not to teach players, it is to inspire them. I believe the role models and the game's history presented in an exciting way in the new Hall of Fame museum does just that."

The National Soccer Hall of Fame, located in Oneonta, New York, features a range of exhibits on the history of soccer in the United States from the first game played on Boston Common to the latest scores and standings. In addition to the Museum, the National Soccer Hall of Fame complex boasts an interactive Kicks Game Zone, a pro shop, a gift shop, library, four world class soccer fields and office/meeting facilities. For additional information contact Jill Renwick at the National Soccer Hall of Fame (607) 432-3351, ext. 203.