During the NASL Legendary Era, Rocco B. Commisso was a spectator and became a fan of the New York Cosmos. Now, the cable television entrepreneur will do a lot more than just watch.
The club announced today that Commisso, Mediacom Communications Corporation Chairman and CEO, has acquired the majority stake in the defending league champions.
“I want to bring my love and passion for the game to the New York Cosmos,” Commisso said on a conference call this afternoon.
Commisso, a native of Italy, was full of admiration for the Cosmos’ history and of the players that have donned the green and white, including his countryman Giorgio Chinaglia, while noting “the most important, in my opinion, in the history of the Cosmos was when Pelé chose to come to the Cosmos.”
The new owner of the Cosmos is more than just a fan of the club and of the sport, though. Commisso was a standout player at Columbia University, where he was a member of an undefeated season during his freshman year and later went on to co-captain the team to its first NCAA postseason appearance in 1970. In 2016, he was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame. Commisso was also invited to a tryout for the United States soccer team for the 1972 Olympics, a roster that ultimately featured former Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing.
He’s also been an active alumni contributor to Columbia’s soccer program for over 40 years and the New York transplant was honored for his dedication to the game by the NYC Soccer Gala in 2015.
For all of his time involved in the game, Commisso will leave all player decisions to the club’s sporting director and coach, Giovanni Savarese, who has guided the Cosmos to the NASL title in three of the last four years. Most recently the club defeated Indy Eleven in a penalty shootout in November to lift the Soccer Bowl Trophy.
“All the things with playing the game are going to be in the hands of Giovanni,” Commisso said. “I have total confidence in Gio.”
With his passion for the game and his dedication of the sport, the Cosmos have just the right leader heading into the 2017 season.
"This is a very exciting day not only for the New York Cosmos but for the NASL as well," NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal said. "Rocco Commisso is an incredibly successful businessman, a dedicated philanthropist, and a New York soccer icon. When you put all of that together, you have the ideal person to take the Cosmos forward and write the next chapter in their storied history."”
Commisso added: “With my deep roots in the New York City area as a former player, youth coach, and proud supporter of the Columbia University soccer program, I look forward to building on the rich history of America’s most iconic soccer club."
That rich history, like any Cosmos fan knows, includes plenty of silverware.