Kevin Payne, a former Major League Soccer executive who was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2021, died on Sunday. He was 69.
Payne’s death was confirmed by US Soccer, MLS, and D.C. United, which won four MLS titles and two US Open Cups during his tenure. According to the Washington Post, Payne died of a lung illness in Charleston, South Carolina.
“He will be remembered as a dedicated champion of our club, MLS, our community, and soccer in the United States,” D.C. United said in a statement.
Payne served as president and general manager of D.C. United from 1994 to 2001, and then as president and CEO from 2004 to 2012. He was also the president of Toronto FC from 2012 to 2013, a member of the Major League Soccer Board of Governors for 18 years, and the executive director and CEO of US Club Soccer from 2015 to 2021.
Payne was “instrumental in the formation of the League,” according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, and he “helped build D.C. United into the first MLS dynasty.”
“Kevin leaves a legacy that will be remembered not only for his success in business and sports, but also for his strong moral compass, kindness, and devotion to his friends and family,” Garber said in a statement. “Everyone at MLS and throughout the soccer community will be devastated by his death.”