Executive Team



Executive Chair

John Furlong

John Furlong has been involved with athletics all his life. A former Canadian squash champion, Furlong has competed at the international level in squash, basketball, and European handball.

A long-time member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, he has led many high profile sport organizations in Canada. Furlong joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC in April 2012 as executive chair – the most senior position of the club’s executive team.

This comes after his term as chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). From the very beginning, Furlong envisioned that the Games could be a true nation builder that would help improve the fabric of Canadian society.

In an interview with the Canadian Press, IOC President Jacques Rogge remarked at how Vancouver had taken on the Games in a way that was “unheard of in the Olympic movement.” The Games had become a catalyst for national unity, he said, and Furlong was a big part of that.

Prior to his appointment as the organizing committee’s CEO, Furlong was the president and chief operating officer for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. He became the bid’s international face and key spokesperson, tirelessly clocking more than 1.2 million miles in his travels to promote the bid.

Over the years, Furlong, an Officer of the Order of Canada and Member of the Order of British Columbia, has received many honours for his service to sport.

To name a few, he was recognized by The Globe and Mail as Canada’s Nation Builder of 2010, as one of the top 25 most transformational living Canadians, and was named Canadian of the Year by The Canadian Club. That same year, he was dubbed Marketer of the Year and Sports Media Canada’s Sports Executive of the Year.

In 2009, both The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named Furlong Canada’s Most Influential Sport Figure. Around the Rings Magazine listed Furlong as one of the world’s top five most influential Olympic officials in both 2009 and 2010, and he’s also Sport BC’s Sportsman of the Decade.

For his service to sport in Canada over a lifetime, Furlong was acclaimed as the 2004 Canadian Sport Awards’ Sport Leadership winner. He has also won Vancouver’s most prestigious tourism award for the promotion of Vancouver around the world.

Outside of sports, Furlong has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees in law (2) and technology (1) from the University of British Columbia, The Justice Institute of BC, and BCIT, and an honorary doctorate in tourism and hospitality from Niagara University, New York, USA.

Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Furlong has five children and 11 grandchildren. His book Patriot Hearts – Inside the Olympics that changed a country, became an instant national bestseller when it was released on February 12, 2011 — the one-year anniversary of the Games.

Sporting Director

Axel Schuster

Axel Schuster was appointed as the club’s sporting director in November 2019, arriving in Vancouver following over two decades in Germany with Bundesliga clubs 1. FSV Mainz 05 and most recently FC Schalke 04. 

At Whitecaps FC, the Cologne, Germany native is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of the club from youth to the first team. 

Prior to his move to MLS, Schuster spent three years as the senior director of professional football for FC Schalke 04. During his time in Gelsenkirchen, Germany with the Royal Blues, they finished second overall in the 2017-18 Bundesliga season and advanced to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. In his role at Schalke 04, Schuster spearheaded the development and execution of a global scouting department.  

Schuster started at 1. FSV Mainz 05 as a youth coach in 1992, which quickly evolved into the role of youth director in 1996. He was named head of football operations in 1999, and in his 16 plus years in that role, Schuster worked closely with the club's head coaches including Jürgen Klopp, which saw Mainz 05 earn promotion to the Bundesliga and a spot in the UEFA Cup for the first time. The club also played in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League under head coaches Thomas Tuchel and Kasper Hjulmand.  

A UEFA A Licence holder, Schuster studied law at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. 


Club Liaison

Bob Lenarduzzi

Excelling as a player, coach, general manager, director of soccer operations, president, and now club liaison, Bob Lenarduzzi has been involved with Whitecaps FC for four decades. 

Playing with his hometown Whitecaps FC (1974 to 1984), Lenarduzzi was the North American Soccer League's all-time leader in games played with 312. A key member of Vancouver’s championship-winning team in 1979, Lenarduzzi was the only Canadian to win the North American Soccer League’s Player of the Year award.

Internationally, he represented Canada 47 times as a player, helping them qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. For his efforts, Lenarduzzi was named among CONCACAF’s top 30 players of the past century.

As a player/coach, he won four straight Canadian Soccer League (CSL) championships and was twice named CSL Coach of the Year. He went on to coach Canada's men’s national team from 1992 to 1997.

Lenarduzzi served as the general manager and director of soccer operations of Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps FC from 1988 to 1993, and 1998 to 2007. In 2000, he received the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division Executive of the Year award, while he was also a member of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 Steering Committee.

A father of two, Lenarduzzi has been inducted into the North American Soccer Hall of Fame, the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, and the United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame. In 2005, he received the Order of British Columbia — the highest form of recognition that the province can extend to its citizens — for his contribution to the sport of soccer.

Chief Operating Officer

Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis has been in the field of sports management for over 15 years, joining Whitecaps FC in 2003 as director of event management and stadium development. In 2007, she assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer.
Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, Lewis spent three years with Vancouver's PGA Tour stop - the Air Canada Championship. As tournament director, she was responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations.
Lewis also represented BMO Financial Group in their sponsorship of the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open. She holds a BA (honours) from the University of Victoria and an MBA from the University of British Columbia.
Lewis has a strong passion for sport and community. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Covenant House Vancouver.  Previous board appointments include the Gastown Business Improvement Society, KidSport Canada, Sport BC and the BC Sports Hall of Fame.  Lewis also volunteered as a member of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 Steering Committee and is a member of the International Women’s Forum and the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.
Lewis has received numerous accolades:
  • Named to the CAAWS (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport) ‘Most Influential Women’ list (2014)
  • Recipient of Sports Business Journal’s ‘Game Changers’ recognizing the intersection of women and sports (2013)
  • Recognized as one of the ‘5 To Watch’ at the first ever ‘Celebration of Leadership in Canadian Sport Business Awards’ (2012)
  • Named one of ‘BC's 100 Women of Influence’ by The Vancouver Sun (2011)
  • Business in Vancouver’s ‘40 Under 40’ award (2008)

She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two young sons.

Vice-President, Finance & Administration

Don Ford

Don Ford joined Whitecaps FC as vice-president of finance and administration in January 2011 after four years with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).

At Whitecaps FC, Ford is responsible for the financial management of the club, including financial planning, reporting, and accounting. He also manages the financial relationships with Major League Soccer (MLS) and the external financial community.

Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, Ford was the director of revenue finance for VANOC, where he oversaw the implementation of all aspects of the organizing committee’s revenue streams. Ford has also worked as a senior manager in the audit and assurance practice for the Vancouver office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, serving the forestry, technology, and retail sectors.

Born in Alberta and raised in Ontario, Ford is an active recreational hockey player and golfer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (honours) from Queen’s University and is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Public Accountant (Illinois).

Vice-President, Soccer Operations

Greg Anderson

Greg Anderson joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2004. As vice-president of soccer operations, Anderson oversees the club's soccer operations for the first team and Residency program, including player management, professional and amateur scouting, in addition to supporting the technical staff with player acquisition. 
Anderson has been with the ‘Caps during their capture of their first two United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division championships in both 2006 and 2008. He also helped oversee the team’s transition into Major League Soccer, where they signed high-profile players such as Jay DeMerit and Young-Pyo Lee. Both players had previously appeared in the FIFA World Cup for their respective countries. Whitecaps FC became the first Canadian team to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs in 2012, which was just their second season in the league. 
Anderson completed an MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2003, during which time, he was invited to join the United Nations Graduate Study Program. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Ontario. 
Anderson and his wife have two children. 

Vice-President, Brand & Fan Engagement 

Mikkel Strojer

After a highly successful marketing career in his native Denmark, Mikkel Strojer (spelled Strøjer in Danish) joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC in June 2012 as the club’s director of marketing.
Strojer, a centre midfielder who played over 300 matches in the top soccer league in Copenhagen, brings a wealth of experience to Whitecaps FC. Most recently, he spent nearly three years as the head of marketing with the Copenhagen Metro, which serves approximately 58 million passengers annually.
In this position, Strojer improved the brand’s awareness from 78 to 91 per cent without an increase in budget, and developed the organization’s mobile app, which eventually reached the top spot in Denmark’s Apple App Store.
Before joining the Metro, Strojer was a creative strategist and copywriter for BOCCA Advertising & Digital, where he served clients such as Mitsubishi and Apple.
A graduate of Roskilde University’s communications and business master’s program, Strojer broke into the industry in 2003 as a marketing intern with the Danish Broadcast Corporation — Denmark’s leading media institution.
The following year, he became a marketing project manager and PR advisor for the award-winning institution. In this position, Strojer led the marketing campaigns and public relations efforts for the Danish Music Awards (Denmark’s version of the Grammys), the P3 Gold Awards, the Public Service Electronic Music Festival and the Danish Classical Music Awards, and other major events.
The tech-savvy marketing professional also served as the brand manager for digital media and new platforms, and for P3 and P4 — the nation’s two most listened to radio stations.
Strojer, who has a passion for architecture and design, moved to Vancouver in 2011 and was named 2013 MLS Marketing Executive of the year in his first full year with Whitecaps FC. He and his Vancouver-born wife are the proud parents of a son named Leo. 

Vice-President, Sales & Service

Colby Fackler

Colby Fackler joined Whitecaps FC in February 2012 as director, corporate partnerships bringing a wide range of sponsorship and sports industry experience to the club. In August 2012, Fackler moved over to lead the sale teams as director, sales & service. At the 2014 MLS Awards, he was named MLS Ticketing Sales Executive of the Year. 
Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, he worked as the senior director of corporate sales with Comcast Spectacor’s FrontRow Marketing, providing commercial rights management for Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League (AHL), and the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Additional experience includes roles at Sport BC, Vancouver Canucks (National Hockey League), and Inventa Promotions, as well as a teaching role in the Entertainment Business Program at Vancouver Film School. Fackler is also a member of the executive committee and board of trustees for the BC Sports Hall of Fame. He has two young sons and lives in Vancouver.


Director, Broadcast & Communications

Tom Plasteras

Tom Plasteras joined Whitecaps FC in August 2015 following a highly successful and award winning career in the broadcast industry. As director of broadcast and communications he oversees the club's broadcast, communications, community relations and media relations initiatives for the first team. He brings a love of sport and a wealth of experience to MLS soccer.

As CKNW senior program director, with Corus Entertainment, Plasteras oversaw all talent and content acquisition and was responsible for brand and reputation management of the station. A versatile and accomplished communicator, he negotiated broadcast agreements with the NHL, NBA, CFL, and WHL. Under Plasteras’ direction, CKNW was consistently the number one ranked station in the market.

Privileged to work alongside some of the greatest sports broadcasters in Canada, Plasteras was responsible for bringing Jim Hughson back to Vancouver as the voice of the Vancouver Canucks and the hiring of John Shorthouse to succeed him on radio. With partners at Orca Bay he created production strategies and formats for the Vancouver Grizzlies NBA broadcasts.

In addition to his role as program director, Plasteras was vice chair for the CKNW Orphans Fund, and today volunteers as vice chair for Kitsilano Neighbourhood House.

A resident of North Vancouver, Tom and his wife Susan have three daughters.

Director, Partnership Marketing

Janet Battle

Janet Battle joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the fall of 2010, in lead-up to the team’s launch into Major League Soccer. In her role as director of partnership marketing, she is responsible for providing strategic direction in the servicing, marketing, and relationship management of club partners.   
Prior to joining the club, Battle was manager of Olympic hospitality for Bell Canada, where she played an integral role in the development of Bell’s Olympic programs in both Beijing (2008) and Vancouver (2010). 
With over 15 years in sports marketing, Battle has worked with the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL and both the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies franchises of the NBA. She has also served on organizing committees for the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the Tour de Gastown. 
Janet currently serves on the Board of Directors for Canada SCORES Vancouver and is a member of the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada, Vancouver chapter.

Director, Soccer Development

Dan Lenarduzzi

Dan Lenarduzzi has been involved in the game, both as a player and executive, throughout much of his life.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Lenarduzzi followed his two older brothers, Bob and Sam, into professional soccer with Whitecaps FC at the age of 18. This made the Lenarduzzis the first three brothers in North America to play on the same professional sports team.

Before joining the team, Lenarduzzi made his way up through the British Columbia youth soccer system with Vancouver's Grandview Legion and the BC provincial team program. In 1979, he led the Canadian U-20 national team to qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, having been named a tournament all-star at the qualifying tournament in Honduras. Other accomplishments include his role as captain of the Canadian side at the U-20 World Cup in Japan, and being a professional player with Whitecaps FC from 1978 to 1982.

In his current role with Whitecaps FC, Lenarduzzi, who has a business degree in marketing and communications from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and has 10 years of marketing industry experience, oversees the club’s Pre-Residency and Girls Elite teams, in addition to other player development programs, and community camps and clinics.