15) David Downs - ex Executive Director of USA World Cup Bid Committee; ABC Sports; Univision; NASL
David Downs is one of the most prominent executives in US Soccer history with a career spanning over three decades. Today his involvement with the game is mainly spent coaching youth teams just north of NYC in Westchester County.
Most recently he served as the Commissioner of the NASL (North American Soccer League) through its first and second seasons in 2011 and 2012. Prior to the NASL he spent more than 30 years in the broadcast industry as an executive with both ABC Sports and Univision Communications. During his time at both networks, Downs successfully led negotiations with the very top leadership at FIFA to acquire the U.S. television rights to every World Cup from 1994 through the 2014 tournament.
In 2009 he was named the Executive Director of the USA bid Committee to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups - a bidding process where the US in the end lost out to Russia and Qatar.
We discuss his journey from the early days working as an Olympic Researcher at ABC traveling around the world pre-internet days asking participants about their personal details, to running the programming department and negotiating for major sports rights together with Bob Iger, the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company, to leading the US bidding process for the FIFA World Cup.
David takes us through the fascinating details of the bidding process, building the team on a shoestring budget, aligning with lobbyists, FIFA’s insane demands, the disappointment and aftermath after losing out to Qatar, negotiations with Sepp Blatter, working with the infamous Chuck Blazer who later was implicated in the biggest corruption scandal in soccer history, all that and much more!