Whitecaps welcome former VANOC chief Furlong to organization

John Furlong

John Furlong certainly knows how to wax poetic on the subject of sport and its greater social impact.

And the former head of Vancouver’s successful Olympic bid showed that off in a Thursday press conference, where he was introduced as the new executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

What isn’t clear at the time is what the executive chair will actually do, or what upcoming projects will get the lion’s share of his attention. But, right now, the Caps are enjoying in the feel-good glow of attaching Furlong to the club.

Furlong spoke of how the game of soccer can bring the world together, and how he hopes the Whitecaps will inspire kids throughout British Columbia to play the game. He’s a big-picture guy. And he spoke of watching the 1966 World Cup final between England and Germany in the streets of Dublin; there was a colour TV showing the game in a shop window, which was better than watching it on the black-and-white set at home.

“I realized the effect the game had on the country and the world, and realized ‘everybody is watching this. Everybody is touched by this.’”

Furlong has been a soccer fan his whole life, but the idea of working for the Whitecaps didn’t even cross his mind until a few weeks ago, when he had a casual char with Greg Kerfoot, one of the members of the ownership group. They started chatting about what Furlong was doing with his life after the Olympics. After a few short weeks, the executive chair position was created. Furlong will work with team President Bob Lenarduzzi and consult with the members of the ownership group.

“I’m a bit stunned myself,” said Furlong. “This has all happened very quickly.”

Whitecaps co-director Jeff Mallett said hiring Furlong is “all about a promise we made and a promise we’re committed to,” that being making the Whitecaps a vibrant part of the community — and to ensure the club’s footprint grows.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.