Francisco Marcos is the founder, and has served as President of United Soccer Leagues since the organizationís inception in 1986. A 1968 graduate of Hartwick College, he played on nationally-ranked teams under coaches David Haase and Al Miller. During his time at Hartwick, Marcos was the editor of the school newspaper, started the Empire State Soccer League and launched the magazine Soccer Monthly, which eventually became the official magazine of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
In 1968, Marcos accompanied Hartwick's team on a European tour. The idea of taking American teams to Europe evolved into a full-time business for the young entrepreneur, who founded American International Sports Exchange, the first American company to develop soccer tours for teams in the United States. Through the company, Marcos established a network of international soccer contacts that would serve him throughout his career marketing the game in North America. Many prominent college and professional coaches in the USA got their first real taste of international soccer under the auspices of Marcosí tours.
Between 1974 and 1984, Marcos spent 10 years in the professional game with the North American Soccer League (NASL), prior to starting what would become today's USL. He spent eight years with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, at the time one of the shining success stories of the NASL. With the Rowdies, he was director of public relations and vice president of soccer operations. He started a cooperative agreement between the Rowdies and Brazilian powerhouse Sao Paulo, began a series of games sponsored by Pan American Airlines in cooperation with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, played host to a weekly radio show and also did color commentary on television. Under his tutelage the Tampa Bay Areaís youth soccer organization would blossom into the Florida Youth Soccer Association.
Marcos joined the NASL's Dallas Tornado in 1978, where he was vice president of player personnel, the first person to hold such a position in the NASL. In between the Tampa Bay and Dallas stints, he helped start the NASL franchise in Calgary , the Boomers, before moving towards his soccer vision -- a group of national leagues covering the majority of the United States.
The seeds of today's USL were sown in 1986 when Marcos founded the Southwest Indoor Soccer League (SISL), which played host to the first national indoor amateur and youth tournaments. The league system would evolve from there until it would become the first comprehensive system of development in the USA and Canada, encompassing three levels of senior menís play, the first national womenís league, (W-League) and the first competitive North American system of youth leagues (Super Y-League).
Born in Portugal, Marcos is fluent in five languages. He is a fanatical soccer fan as well, and has the match tickets to prove it. He has attended nine consecutive World Cups since 1970 either as a fan, journalist or part of an official delegation. In 1994, he was World Cup USA's official team liaison for Brazil's National Team. He has served as head of delegations for US National Teams at the 1999 U20 FIFA World Championships in Nigeria and in Argentina in 2001.
Recognized by his peers as one of the key movers and shakers in the game, he serves or has served on the board of directors of U.S. Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), the US Soccer Governing task force, and in 2005 was recognized with a letter of commendation by the NSCAA. He was inducted into Hartwick College's Hall of Fame in 2001, and into USLís own Hall of Fame in 2002.
He now splits his time between the USA and Portugal, where his family -- wife Beverly, and children Julian and Amy -- reside, and where he attends every possible match of his boyhood team, Sporting Club of Portugal.