Werner J. Fricker, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation from 1984 to 1990 and a man regarded as a pioneer of the sport in this country, died at his home in Horsham, Pa., on Wednesday at age 65 after a yearlong battle with cancer.
Born in Karlsdorf, Yugoslavia, on Jan. 24, 1936, Fricker moved with his family to Austria at the end of World War II and immigrated to the United States in 1952. A year later, he started his first construction company, which grew to become the Fricker Corp., a successful property development company.
As a player, he was captain of the United German-Hungarian team from 1958 to 1969, winning the National Amateur Cup with the club in 1965. He also was a member of the U.S. national team.
"Werner was a true U.S. soccer pioneer and will be remembered by everyone involved in the sport as we continue to reap the benefits of his leadership across more than 40 years of involvement at the game's highest levels," said Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia, the current president of U.S. Soccer.
Fricker's involvement in soccer continued as an administrator, and he achieved his greatest success in 1988 when, as president of U.S. Soccer, he led the campaign that resulted in the U.S. being awarded the 1994 World Cup tournament.
He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992.
Fricker is survived by his children, Werner Jr., Marlene and Janet.
A memorial fund benefiting children's soccer and cultural activities has been established through the United German-Hungarian Club in Oakford, Pa.