A little more than 24 hours after being elected president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Alan Rothenberg said yesterday he will be leading a complete review of the organization as it moves toward organizing a national professional outdoor league that should begin play no later than fall 1992.
U.S. national team coach Bob Gansler could be a casualty of the reevaluation, which Rothenberg said would include "everything from the receptionist to Mr. Gansler.
"That doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on any of them," said Rothenberg, who defeated incumbent Werner Fricker and previous treasurer Paul Stiehl at the conclusion of the USSF's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. "We will look at everything and retain what's working and change what's not working."
Gansler, who was hired by Fricker, received considerable criticism for the U.S. team's performance while qualifying for, and playing in, this year's World Cup finals.
"When the boss changes in any operation, it's safe to assume there will be other changes as well," said Gansler, who added he had not spoken with Rothenberg as of late yesterday afternoon. "This is not something I can influence right now."
Gansler's position probably will not be enhanced if, as expected, Franz Beckenbauer, who coached West Germany to the 1990 World Cup championship, becomes the team's technical director. Beckenbauer "will be coming aboard," said Fricker, who will continue to serve on the board of directors for USSF and 1994 World Cup.
On Thursday the USSF board of directors approved a resolution that set a timetable for the formation of a national pro outdoor league. Five to seven people will be named to a committee that will have until next year's annual meeting to determine the league's teams, administration and rules.
Twelve to 16 teams are to be selected from the approximately 60 now playing in either the American Soccer League, Western Soccer League, Major Soccer League or American Indoor Soccer League. Teams currently playing on a semipro basis also will be considered if they have proper financial backing. Players in the league are to be full time, and the league's schedule is to run for six to eight months. It will be the United States's first national pro outdoor league since the North American Soccer League, which folded in 1984, and it will fulfill a commitment the USSF made to FIFA when it successfully bid to host the 1994 World Cup finals.
Rothenberg, a 54-year-old lawyer from Los Angeles, said he planned to lead in a style he called "180 degrees opposite" from that of Fricker, the USSF's president since 1984.
"I want to get the best people around me, delegate and give them the support they need," Rothenberg said. "I don't profess to be an expert in playing, coaching or refereeing the game."
But as soccer commissioner of the 1984 Olympics, he built a reputation as an expert administrator and manager. That reputation prompted FIFA, the sport's international governing body, to encourage Rothenberg's candidacy through Chuck Cale, another Los Angeles attorney and veteran of the 1984 Olympic organizing committee. Cale, who currently serves as an assistant to U.S. Olympic Committee President Robert Helmick, will be part of a 10-person transition committee Rothenberg said will spend the next 60 or so days evaluating the USSF and making recommendations to him and the board of directors.