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Kevin Payne, ex-D.C. United president and soccer Corridor of Famer, dies at 69

Kevin Payne, a Nationwide Soccer Corridor of Fame inductee who oversaw D.C. United’s rise into an early MLS dynasty because the membership’s founding president and common supervisor, died Sunday of a long-term lung sickness. He was 69.

“It saddens me enormously to let that Kevin Payne handed away this morning,” Sunil Gulati, who served as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation from 2006 to 2018, advised The Washington Put up in an announcement. “He was surrounded by his household and at peace after a protracted and tough battle. We are going to all miss him terribly.”

An influential determine in soccer’s progress in the US over the previous three a long time, Payne put collectively United’s authentic funding group forward of the inaugural 1996 MLS season and served because the membership’s high government from 1994 to 2001 and once more from 2004 to 2012.

Since 2015, he had labored because the CEO and government director of the soccer growth group US Membership Soccer.

“He was an excellent good friend,” Gulati stated, “and a fully important a part of the game’s progress during the last 30-plus years.”

United was significantly prolific throughout Payne’s first stint, profitable three of the primary 4 MLS Cup championships, two Supporters’ Defend titles for the league’s finest common season file and the 1996 U.S. Open Cup crown.

The workforce was led from its inception by former College of Virginia coach Bruce Area — who would go on to steer the U.S. males’s nationwide workforce to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals — and featured the likes of Bolivian stars Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno and U.S. nationwide workforce stalwarts Eddie Pope and John Harkes. United dominated over the area as effectively, beating Mexico’s Toluca for the 1998 Concacaf Champions Cup — nonetheless one among simply three continental titles received by MLS groups.

After leaving the membership to function vice chairman and managing director of AEG Soccer in 2001, Payne took cost of six MLS groups — the Los Angeles Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fireplace, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, San Jose Earthquakes and United — because the fledging league navigated a time of contraction and monetary uncertainty.

He returned to United because the membership’s president and CEO in 2004, when the workforce earned its fourth and most up-to-date MLS Cup title. D.C. additionally received two extra Supporters’ Shields and one other U.S. Open Cup earlier than Payne stepped down in 2012 and launched into a one-year stint as Toronto FC’s president and common supervisor.

Payne was inducted into the Nationwide Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2021 below the establishment’s “Builder” designation, and likewise earned U.S. Soccer’s Werner Fricker Builder Award in 2011. (Fricker was the president of U.S. Soccer when he employed Payne to be the federation’s nationwide administrator in 1989.) Payne was added to United’s Corridor of Custom in 2015.

Born March 5, 1953, Payne labored as a radio journalist in New York and as a particular occasions government in Vail, Colo., earlier than taking a job as an government for U.S. Soccer in 1989. Two years later, he grew to become the president of Soccer USA Companions, a agency that owned the advertising and broadcast promotion rights to the U.S. males’s nationwide workforce within the buildup to the 1994 World Cup in the US.

Throughout his Nationwide Soccer Corridor of Fame induction speech, Payne recalled his early days with United as a few of the “most pleasant instances” of his skilled life. He additionally recalled his assembly with Fricker greater than 30 years in the past, when Fricker requested him why he wished to work in soccer.

“I advised Werner Fricker I wasn’t in search of a job,” stated Payne, whose first publicity to the game was a delayed-tape exhibiting of the 1966 World Cup last. “I wished to make a distinction in our sport, I wished to perform one thing and I wished to depart one thing behind, which might stay on after I used to be gone. I’ve tried my finest. I hope I’ve succeeded.”

Scott Allen and Steven Goff contributed to this report.



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