Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that John Furlong, former chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), has been named executive chair of the club. Furlong assumes his new role with Whitecaps FC effective immediately.
As executive chair and the most senior member of the club’s executive team, Furlong joins president Bob Lenarduzzi, and chief operating officer Rachel Lewis, to lead the broad business operations of Whitecaps FC as the club continues its second season in Major League Soccer (MLS). He will also play an active strategic role with the club’s ownership group.
"Today marks another historic day for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and on behalf of our ownership group, I am excited to welcome John to our team,” said Jeff Mallett, Whitecaps FC co-owner. “Throughout his tenure at VANOC, from the bid stage through to the completion of a highly successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, John has become one of the most respected and recognized leaders in Canada.”
“The ‘Caps ownership group is committed to its long-term vision of growing the club, and building and delivering a team – on and off the pitch – that our partners, supporters, and community can all be proud of," added Mallett. "We look forward to John’s contributions to helping us achieve our mandate.”
"Whitecaps FC have a long and rich history with a demonstrated commitment to developing and growing the thriving sport of soccer in British Columbia and Canada. I look forward to being part of this next chapter and contributing everything that I can to help all areas of the club succeed,” said Furlong. “As a lifelong supporter, I know that the experience for fans at a Major League Soccer match is unique, unlike any other sport, and we have only just begun to explore its enormous potential.”
Furlong was introduced by Jeff Mallett at a media conference today in downtown Vancouver.
About John Furlong:
John Furlong created the vision and led the team that bid for, organized, and staged the highly successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. He is one of the longest serving leaders in Olympic history.
He was there at the beginning of the bid phase and went on to become CEO of VANOC, leading the organization through many trials and tribulations, all the way through to the closing ceremonies. He was relentless in his pursuit to deliver a Games that would touch the hearts and minds of every Canadian. John Furlong is the leader behind the team that organized and staged the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. From the very beginning of the project, Furlong envisioned that the Games could be a true nation builder, helping to improve the fabric of Canadian society. IOC President Jacques Rogge remarked in a Canadian Press interview at how Vancouver had taken on the Games in a way that was ``unheard of in the Olympic movement,'' and considered them as belonging to all of Canada, was not surprised that the Games had become a catalyst for national unity.
Furlong’s service to sport has landed him with numerous other forms of recognition - among them The IOC’s Olympic Order and the IPC’s Paralympic Order. He was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as the 2004 W.A.C. Bennett Award winner.
Furlong has been involved with athletics all his life, having competed at the international level in Basketball, European handball and Squash. He became Canadian Squash Champion in 1986. Furlong has been a long time member of the Canadian Olympic Committee and has led many high profile sport organizations in Canada.
On July 1, 2010, Furlong was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and on October 21, 2010, he became a Member of the Order of British Columbia.
He has been recognized by The Globe and Mail as Canada’s Nation Builder of 2010, as one of the top 25 most transformational living Canadians and has been named Canadian of the Year by The Canadian Club. He is Canada’s 2010 Marketer of the year and Sports Media Canada’s Sports Executive of the Year.
In 2009, Furlong was named Canada’s Most influential Sport Figure by both The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He is also Sport BC’s Sportsman of the Decade.
Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Furlong has five children and eleven grandchildren. His book Patriot Hearts – Inside the Olympics that changed a country became an instant national bestseller when it was launched on February 12, 2011, the one year anniversary of the 2010 Winter Games.