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Former NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam, 80, dies

Sunday - 7/21/2013, 1:40pm  ET

The Associated Press

The North American Soccer League says former commissioner Phil Woosnam has died. He was 80.

Woosnam, who was living in suburban Atlanta, led the league from 1968-1982 after finishing his playing career with English teams Aston Villa, West Ham and Leyton Orient. The Welshman won the NASL's first coach of the year award, for the Atlanta Chiefs in 1968, before taking over as commissioner for the next season.

He ran the league until 1982, and the league folded after the 1984 season.

Woosnam helped raise the NASL's profile as North America's top soccer league. He secured its first network TV contract, and Pele joined the New York Cosmos during his tenure. The league also expanded to West Coast cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles.

Phil Woosnam was a true pioneer of soccer in the United States in every sense of the word and his contribution to the sport in this country is immeasurable," said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson.

Phil Woosnam is cousin to professional golfer Ian Woosnam.


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