Mark Abbott is stepping down from his position as president and deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer, effective at the end of 2022, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The Sports Business Journal was first to report the news.
In the memo addressed to the league’s Board of Governors, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said: “After nearly 30 years with the League, Mark has reached a point in his life and career where he would like to pursue a wide variety of new personal and professional opportunities. Mark will remain fully engaged through the end of next year and will transition to an advisory role on a number of key areas in 2023 and beyond.”
Garber added in the memo that he and Abbott have been discussing the latter’s departure for “several months” and added: “I know I speak for everyone when I say how much he will be missed and how fortunate we have all been to work with a colleague as smart, thoughtful, balanced and singularly dedicated to the best interest of our League.”
Abbott was the league’s first employee when it began operating back in 1993, and was the architect of the league’s single-entity business plan. He has served as deputy commissioner since 2013, focusing on the business, legal and financial side of MLS. This included all areas of league operations and competition, including product strategy, player relations, strategic planning and communications.
“I was incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity by Alan Rothenberg in 1993 to help launch Major League Soccer,” Abbott said in a statement provided to ESPN. “The growth and success of our League has exceeded anything I could have imagined at the time; and that is a tribute to the commitment of our owners, club staffs, players, and referees and to the leadership of Don Garber and our talented and dedicated executives and staff at the League office, both past and present. I look forward working with Don and my colleagues before I step down at the end of next year as we continue what has been an incredible journey together.”
Prior to taking on his current role, Abbott served as the league’s senior vice president of business affairs. He played a key role in the launch of MLS in 1996, earning the League the “Sports Industrialist of the Year” award from the Sports Business Daily publication. Abbott was promoted to chief operating officer in 1997 and became MLS president in 2006. He was named to Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 in both 2001 and 2002.
Prior to joining MLS, Abbott practiced law as an associate of MLS Founder Alan I. Rothenberg with Latham & Watkins, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and commercial law.