SEATTLE, WASH. – The World Football Summit (WFS) today announced that Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey has been named the winner of the Best Executive Award, presented by Nolan Partners. Lagerwey edges fellow finalists Ivan Gazidis (CEO of AC Milan) and Karren Brady (Vice Chairman of West Ham United) for the honor, which is being presented at the WFS Awards on September 28 in Seville, Spain.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the World Football Summit and accept this prestigious award. I’d like to give credit to everyone at Sounders FC for contributing to the spectacle that was our Concacaf Champions League title in May. With almost 70,000 fans packing Lumen Field to witness the club’s unprecedented championship, it was a tremendous way to cement Sounders FC’s place in the global football world,” said Lagerwey. “I’d like to acknowledge my fellow finalists Ivan and Karren, two phenomenal sports executives that I consider a privilege to be mentioned alongside of. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished in my eight years in Seattle, and none of it would be possible without the excellent people I work alongside with at Sounders FC.”
Under Lagerwey, Sounders FC has amassed a 117-86-54 MLS regular-season record and 17-5-3 postseason record, including four MLS Cup Final appearances and two league championships. In 2022, the club became the first MLS team to claim the Concacaf Champions League and qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup. On its development side, Sounders FC’s Academy has enjoyed a strong run, producing multiple First Team contributors and winning Generation Adidas Cup titles in 2018, 2019 and 2022, the U-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship in 2018 and the Youdan / Sheffield Cup from 2016-2019. Lagerwey has also been responsible for some of the most notable player signings in Sounders FC history, including Nicolás Lodeiro, Raúl Ruidíaz, Albert Rusnák, João Paulo, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, among others.
The WFS Awards were created in 2017 to acknowledge and reward the work done by professionals across the football industry’s different fields and sectors who, beyond the 90 minutes of game, strive to make this sport a real economic engine. Lagerwey is now part of a group that includes former winners like Giuseppe Marotta (former General Manager of Juventus), Darren Eales (current CEO of Newcastle United and former President of Atlanta United), Christian Seifert (CEO of the German Football League) and more.
To claim this honor, Lagerwey was selected over two top global football leaders in Gazidis and Brady. The current CEO of Italian giant AC Milan, Gazidis is a former Deputy Commissioner of Major League Soccer and Chief Executive at Arsenal. Like Lagerwey, he previously worked for leading lawfirm Latham & Watkins. Brady is Vice-Chairman of Premier League side West Ham United, having previously been Managing Director of Birmingham City. She sits in the House of Lords and has been a Small Business Ambassador to the government of the United Kingdom.
Earlier this month, Sounders FC launched its 2022 General Manager Vote (part of the 2022 Sounders Ballot), which gives Alliance Members the opportunity to cast a vote of retention or no confidence in the club’s general manager every four years of that executive’s tenure. Championed by Drew Carey as a condition to joining the newly minted Sounders FC ownership group in 2008, Democracy in Sports is a pillar of the franchise that believes that fans of the team are empowered to have a real, tangible say in the organization with the right to determine the overall course of the team. Lagerwey, hired ahead of the 2015 season, was retained following his first General Manager Vote in 2018 and now faces his second. The club's bylaws require that 40% of eligible Alliance Members participate in the General Manager Vote for the final tally to be considered valid, so those with votes are highly encouraged to take part in order to ensure that the final vote can be official. For a vote of no confidence to move forward, it must be chosen by the super-majority of no less than 67% of all votes cast.