Soccer Names That Made Sports Illustrated’s 50 Most Powerful People In Sports

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Sports Illustrated released its annual ranking of the 50 most powerful people in sports today, using some criteria that involves vague notions of who controls what or where they have lunch. The list is heavily American, understandable perhaps as SI is an American publication, but does include a few names from the world of football (the non-American kind). Sepp is there, as is Premier League boss Richard Scudamore. Three major club owners appear as well: Stan Kroenke, Arsenal’s owner, The Glazer family, currently in possession of Manchester United, and Sheikh Mansour, the man who poured gargantuan sums into Man City to turn them into a Premier League champion.

That select group made the list on the strength of their power in the world of soccer, though both of the American owners, Kroenke and the Glazers, also have significant holdings in big time American sports.

Other names achieved their ranking almost wholly due to their other concerns, but have an interest in soccer. AEG founder Phillip Anschutz, number three on the list, is one of Major League Soccer’s original investors and still owns the LA Galaxy and the controlling portion of the Houston Dynamo. Robert Kraft (#12) makes the top 50 as the owner of the New England Patriots NFL franchise, but also has a soccer interest with the New England Revolution of MLS (Kraft, like Anschutz, is an original MLS investor).

Television executives John Skipper (ESPN, #4) and Mark Lazarus (NBC Sports, #7) are in the business of broadcasting soccer on American TVs; Skipper is a noted soccer booster who led the charge for ESPN to improve its World Cup coverage, and Lazarus recently oversaw the securing of English Premier League rights in the U.S. for his new network.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter lands at number 16, which seems rather low considering FIFA’s worldwide influence and World Cup ownership. Blatter’s influence in the United States might not reach Roger Goodell proportions, but he’s certainly a powerful figure in sports across the globe.

Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore shows up at 21; Scudamore heads the world’s most popular league, a competition that generates billions of pounds a year through international marketing efforts.

Manchester United’s reviled owners, the Glazer Family, come in at 29. The Glazers own an NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but make the list mostly because of their control of Manchester United. Despite loading the club with debt, United remains one of the world’s most successful clubs and should wrap up a 20th top-flight title this season. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are a football team.

At 36 is Sheikh Mansour, Man City’s uber-rich owner and the man directly responsible for turning the club into a Premier League winner. Mansour’s money changed City’s fortunes, just as Roman Abramovich’s did for Chelsea.

Here’s the full SI top 50: also has a slideshow of the list.

As a corollary to the pan-sport top 50, Grant Wahl put together a top ten for soccer.

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