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February 14, 2011
United's Payne is honored

LAS VEGAS – Kevin Payne, a leading soccer executive and pioneer in the sport, was honored at U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting as the recipient of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award.

The honor is given annually to an individual who has worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement. The award honors 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.

"Kevin has been at the forefront of the game for more than 20 years," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. "His vision, leadership and commitment have contributed significantly to the progress we have made in the sport in this country. He has devoted his career to advancing soccer, and he is certainly deserving of this honor."

Originally hired by Fricker to be the National Administrator for U.S. Soccer in 1990, Payne has served federation and the pro game in various leadership capacities for more than 20 years. In his role as president and CEO of D.C. United, Payne has overseen the most successful professional soccer team in U.S. history, winning four MLS Cups, four Supporters Shields, two U.S. Open Cups, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Interamerican Cup.

Payne also has served on the U.S. Soccer board of directors for many years, devoting his time to the development of the game. He chairs the U.S. Soccer Technical Committee and the Task Force for Men's Player Development. A founding member of the MLS Board of Governors, he remains a member of that Board and the MLS Competition Committee. He is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and is a member of the FIFA Standing Committee for Club Football. Kevin also is a founding Board member of United for D.C., the charitable foundation of D.C. United, and of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, where he serves on the Executive Committee. He is also a member of the Federal City Council of Washington, D.C.

“Werner Fricker was very important to me,” Payne said. “He brought me into U.S. Soccer originally and was a man I admired greatly. As this award recognizes individuals for their work in building our sport on a national level, I am deeply honored to have been chosen and proud to jo-in the previous winners of the Werner Fricker Builder Award.”

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, in 2006 the award was given to Sal Rapaglia, president of the Eastern New York Amateur Soccer Association and in 2007 the award was presented to Franscisco Marcos, president of the United Soccer League. Former head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Bob Gansler, was recipient of the award in 2008. A pair of former U.S. Soccer Presidents, Alan Rothenberg and Dr. Bob Contiguglia, received the award in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Fricker is widely credited for his role in bringing the 1994 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 U.S. Soccer president from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992.

The president of U.S. Soccer appoints a selection committee to review the nominations and select a winner.

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