Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia, one of the United States' most experienced soccer leaders, was elected president of U.S. Soccer August 22, 1998. His election as head of the nation's national governing body of soccer culminated a three-decade career in which he excelled as a player, coach and administrator at nearly every possible level of the game. As with so many Americans, Dr. Contiguglia, a successful kidney specialist by training, began his soccer love affair as a player and coach and ultimately he pursued soccer administration at the youth level. His leadership and acumen rapidly took him to the forefront of the game during its most critical moments of the last 15 years.

The 55-year old native of New York has been involved at the top echelons of soccer since 1981, when he was first elected president of the Colorado State Youth Soccer Association, a position which was merely the first in a remarkably active and varied career. His expertise at the state level quickly resulted in a number of national committee positions and assignments. He was named in 1983 as the youth representative to the U.S. Soccer coaching committee, and just a year later he was appointed to a term as chairman of that body and was also named the Federation's delegate to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

He truly began to make his mark nationally in 1990, when he was elected chairman of the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, the group which was charged with leading and managing the huge youth game landscape in America. He was immediately faced with organizational and financial challenges, which he handled with great skill, guiding USYSA to a multi-million youth membership level and a position of enormous influence within the North American soccer world.

Contiguglia served for six years (1990-1996) as chairman of the USYSA, during which time he also was a member of the Executive Committee of U.S. Soccer. He continued to serve on the U.S. Soccer National Board of Directors as chairman of the coaching committee until his election as president. He also serves in various capacities with CONCACAF, the world's regional zone in which the United States plays. He also gave his time as a member of the board of the U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation from the group's inception in 1994 through 1996.

Contiguglia's soccer playing career began at Great Neck High School in Long Island , N.Y., where he earned all-Nassau County honors. A three-year varsity letter winner at Columbia University in New York City, Contiguglia earned All-Ivy League honor his senior year. After high school, he began playing club soccer in 1959 with the Great Neck Soccer Club in Long Island, and from 1970-82 he participated on numerous club teams in the Denver area.

A U.S. Soccer National "A" licensed coach, Contiguglia coached in the Colorado State Youth Soccer Association from 1976-82, beginning with his son's under-6 team. In 1982, his boy's under-12 squad finished as runner-up in the Colorado State Cup, and his under-16 Colorado State Select Team were champions of the Rocky Mountain Regional Tournament, with six players being selected to the regional team.

Above - USSF President, Bob Contiguglia holding a small gift presented by La Cancha ,
an clear acrylic block containing preserved grass from Americas' first World Cup.

Born Sept. 14, 1941, in New York City, Contiguglia, a U.S. Air Force Reserve Captain, earned his medical degree in 1967 from State University of New York City in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University with a major in Zoology and a minor in English. He is president of Colorado Kidney Associates in Denver, Co.

He and his wife, Georgianna, who is President and CEO of the Colorado Historical Society, make their home in Denver. They are the parents of two children, Andrew and Francesca.

La Cancha recently spoke with  Dr. Bob in New York City.  He was there to announce D.C. Uniteds' Bruce Arena as the new head coach of the U.S. National Soccer Team.  We asked Bob a few questions about his aspirations as the new head of USSF, his choice of Bruce Arena for the position of national coach, Women's World Cup, and the role of minorities in soccer in America.

                                 A few questions for Dr. Bob Contiguglia :

Q: This may be an obvious question, but how does it feel being elected as the president of the United States Soccer Federation?
A: I am extremely honored to have been elected as president of the USSF.  I feel that this postion is one of tremendous responsibility. There is a lot of work to do; work which will require a sustained focus and commitment on my part. As you may be aware, it is not new for me to be in a position of leadership. I've been involved in this sport for many years and at various levels particularly the youth league. However, being the president offers a  new challenge.

Q: What specifically do you plan to accomplish during your term?
A: Well, as with any president or head of an organization, it is my intention to increase the growth and development of our organization and the sport of soccer as a whole in America.  We have come a long way under the previous leadership of Alan Rothenberg but we have a long way yet to go.

Q: How do you believe the Women's World Cup will impact on the growth of women's soccer in America, and do you believe those games will draw the type of crowds that came to World Cup 94?
A: There is no doubt that the Women's World Cup will be a tremendous success. The holding of the games here will not only impact on the growth of the women's soccer, but America's soccer program as a whole.

Q:Why was Bruce Arena chosen as head coach for the men's U.S. National Team as opposed to others who may have been considered such as Bora Multinovoic and Carlos Queiroz?
A: Well, first let me state that Bruce was not chosen because he was better than any other indvidual. He was chosen because he has proven that he is capable of doing the job.  He has served as head coach for numerous years and at several levels including international.
As with any great coach, Bruce can quickly recognize and understand weakeneses and strengths in his players.  As a result, he is able to make appropriate modifications which have led to his achieivement of  positive results. This is not to say the other coaches who were being considered were not as capable as Bruce. I'm merely stating one of the primary reasons Bruce was chosen, and why he is an excellent coach.

Q: Does the USSF have a plan for increasing  participation of inner city minority youths in the sport of soccer?
A: The sport of soccer benefits all those who participate, and on any level. . However, I am not only interested in seeing an increase in the number of  minority youths playing the sport, but more importantly, I believe that minorities particularly African Americans should become more involved in the administrative aspect, and it is my intention to increase minority involvement that area as well.  

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