Friday, July 19, 2013

Phil Woosnam's Desk...

Sometimes physical items possess the energy of their owners.  At least that is how I have felt about Phil Woosnam NASL Commissioner's desk which has been with me through most of my domestic and international career. Phil, a mentor, passed away on Friday.

In 1985, Ted Howard called me and said they were putting up Phil's desk for sale, which was more recently occupied by Howard "the Horse" Samuels and Clive Toye.  I bought it on my own while the insolvent US Soccer was still located at the Empire State Building.
Phil Woosnam

USSF then moved to JFK airport in a suite of hotel rooms prior to their big move to the US Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.  The desk only spent a couple of months there before it moved home to Westchester.

By the end of 2006, the desk was the foundation on which Clive Toye, Gordon Bradley and I formed the new ASL (American Soccer League). Months later, we opened offices in Eastchester with Clive as Chairman and me as Commissioner.

The desk moved home while I temporarily lived in Miami to run the Miami Sharks.  The Brazilian owner ran out of money.  I missed Phil's desk and returned home to it in New York.

Following Miami, I stepped away from soccer and got involved in banking. So, the Desk made its move to Fifth Avenue, where it has lived on that famous Avenue ever since.  

In the 24 years since its move to Manhattan, the Desk witnessed the birth of the Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, the FIFA RAP (Referee Assistance Program), the Women's World Cup, CONCACAF Women's and Youth Tournaments, the growth of the membership base, pioneering the streaming of live matches free on the internet while growing the value of the treasury.

Phil would have been proud that the Desk played a roll in chairing more World Cups than any other elected at FIFA.  On its wooden surface hundreds of decisions were made or considered on Players Status or as Single Judge. As the desk of the Chair of the FIFA Marketing and TV, FIFA's values rose to record breaking levels.  

For six years, my Deputies sat behind the Desk and equally were imbued by the creative environment which was so important in arriving at today's popular state of American Soccer

At the end of 2011, the desk moved home where its next great projects were put on the table.  Phil, thank you for the inspiration of your desk. Thank you for what I learned from you in the 80's. Rest in Peace.

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