US SoccerUS Soccer

Francisco Marcos Receives Prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award at 2007 AGM

LOS ANGELES (February 24, 2007) — Francisco Marcos, the president and founder of the United Soccer Leagues, was honored at U.S. Soccer's Annual General Meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday as the recipient of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award. The honor is bestowed annually to an individual who has worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the sport of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement.

"There are too many people responsible for this, but I would be remiss not to mention the involvement of two or three people that have made this journey possible," said Marcos in accepting the award. "First and foremost, my wife Beverly, who started out as my part-time assistant, became my first full-time employee, eventually my girlfriend, my wife and the mother of my son Julian. She accepted, perhaps without fully understanding, that soccer was such a passion that it was part of the blood mix - everything else would have to wait, which possibly explains why 16-year old Julian has a 61-year old father. I couldn't have done this without her."

The Werner Fricker Award is designed to honor those who have created or fostered programs that will outlast their own active involvement in the sport and that establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States.

Marco's long career in soccer is highlighted by the creation of the USL, which began as a modest five-team indoor soccer league in Texas and Oklahoma in 1986, and eventually blossomed into the tiered-developmental league that currently has clubs in more than 100 cities in North America.

Along the way, USL took over the management of the then independent A-League (now USL First Division), launched the first-ever national women’s league (W-League) and developed a national elite youth league (Super Y-League), creating a system of player development ranging from under-13 to the professional game.

"Francisco Marcos has been a close friend of mine for 20 years, so it is a great pleasure for me to see him being honored in this way," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, who presented the award to Marcos. "Francisco has helped grow the sport of soccer at every level in the United States. Whether it be his grassroots outreach into scores of different communities across the country or the way in which he has helped develop our professional game, Francisco has given selflessly to the betterment of soccer in the United States. After five decades of activity, we are all the beneficiary of his long-term vision."

Werner Fricker himself was honored posthumously with the inaugural award in 2002, with his son, Werner Jr., accepting the award on his behalf. Current U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati received the award in 2003, and with the organization’s Annual General Meeting moving from the summer months to March, no award was bestowed in 2004. In 2005 the honor went to Michigan Soccer Association President Gerhard Mengel, and in 2006, the award was given to Sal Rapaglia, president of the Eastern New York Amateur Soccer Association.

Werner Fricker is widely credited for his role in bringing the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States. Born in Yugoslavia and raised in Austria, he lived his adult life in Pennsylvania, where he was a star midfielder for the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia soccer club from 1954 to 1969 and was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team. He served as US Soccer President from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1992.

The President of U.S. Soccer appoints a selection committee to review the nominations and select a winner. The selection committee appointees, which included chairman Marge Madriago, Bob Contiguglia, Stephen Flamhaft, Werner Fricker Jr., Jim Hamilton and Kevin Payne, are representative of U.S. Soccer and all nominations are received from the membership.

Year     Recipient
2002     Werner Fricker, Sr.
2003     Sunil Gulati (more
2005     Gerhard Mengel (more
2006     Sal Rapaglia (more
2007     Francisco Marcos

In other news at Saturday’s National Council meeting, U.S. Soccer’s membership approved the addition of Carlos Cordero to the Board of Directors as one of three independent director positions. Additionally, the U.S. Soccer Foundation saw Richard Groff voted to the organization’s Board of Directors, while Linda Hamilton and Kevin Payne were re-elected to the same body. Chris Christoffersen, Peter Masotto and Darl Rose were voted as Life Members by the National Council.