Gazidis leaving MLS

Major League Soccer just sent out the following press release regarding deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis. What are your thoughts, and how might it impact MLS in the coming years?

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NEW YORK (Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008) ‘ Major League Soccer today announced that Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer at Arsenal of the English Premier League and will leave MLS to begin working for the London-based club in January, 2009.

‘Ivan Gazidis was one of the founding executives of Major League Soccer. His 14 years of service to the League and the sport of soccer in America have helped establish Major League Soccer as a legitimate first division sports league in North America and a respected soccer league throughout the world,’ MLS commissioner Don Garber said. ‘Major League Soccer’s on-field product has marched steadily forward, primarily due to Ivan’s thorough understanding of the game and its global market, his impressive reasoning and judgment, and his deep-rooted desire to see soccer grow in North America.

‘That Arsenal, one of the most distinguished sports organizations in the world, has chosen Ivan to lead its club speaks volumes about his abilities and the international respect for MLS that he has helped establish. We have countless reasons to thank Ivan for his pioneering efforts and we wish him all the best in his new endeavor.’

As Deputy Commissioner, Gazidis oversees all aspects of competition and player contracts for MLS.

Born September 13, 1964, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gazidis moved to England when he was four years old. He attended Oxford University, graduating in 1986 with a Master’s Degree in Law. He moved to the United States in 1992 for an internship with Latham & Watkins law firm. He began working for MLS in 1994 as a vice president and was named Deputy Commissioner in 2001.

‘I have been privileged in my 14 years with MLS to have worked with and for some of the best sports executives and owners in the world, whose vision, commitment and expertise have taken the league from strength to strength,’ Gazidis said. ‘The League is superbly positioned for future growth and this provides me the opportunity to return home after 16 years in the United States. I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to work at Arsenal ‘ a club rich in heritage and tradition ‘ and I will bring all of my experiences at MLS to bear in my new role.”

Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: ‘Ivan’s credentials are first class. It is evident that he has a wealth of business acumen together with a broad knowledge of football that will not only help to maintain Arsenal’s pre-eminent standing but enhance our reputation within the football community and international commercial markets.’

In discussing the future of the MLS Player and Competition Department, Commissioner Garber stated, ‘I am confident that these functions will be filled by an executive or executives with similarly exceptional qualities who will continue the forward progress he charted. During the transitional period, competition matters will be handled by MLS Executive Vice President Todd Durbin, a 13-year veteran of the MLS competition department and MLS Senior Vice President Nelson Rodriguez. They will be supported by Joe Machnik (Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner), Alfonso Mondelo (Director of Player Programs) and MLS President Mark Abbott.’

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