Q&A with Erick Thohir
You are reportedly an avid soccer fan, please tell us about that.
Soccer (football) is the top sport throughout the world, and the same is true in Asia. I love the sport, I grew up with football since I was a kid. One of my earliest memories is watching a World Cup championship game between Argentina and Holland when I was six years old. My brothers and I each took sides – I was rooting for Holland. They lost, which meant I had to eat an entire bowl of spicy chips and nuts. I'll never forget that!
How did you learn about Major League Soccer?
I started to follow MLS when LA Galaxy signed David Beckham. It really was a moment where the world took notice of football in the US. My interest in the business really grew last August after the Global Sports Summit in Aspen, Colorado. I started having an interest in ownership following that.
Besides MLS and D.C. United, what teams and leagues do you follow most closely?
I follow a lot of global leagues across a variety of sports, but when it comes to soccer, I do have a particular interest in English Premier League, the Indonesian football leagues, and La Liga.
Do you have a favorite soccer memory?
My wife was pregnant and very near her due date in 1999, and I was watching the UEFA Champion's League Final – Manchester United against Bayern Munich. Manchester United won the game 2-1 after coming from behind in the last few minutes of injury time, and my wife's water broke literally immediately after the game ended. She gave birth to our twins later that day.
You recently served as the head of the Indonesian Olympic Committee. Tell us about that experience and please share your favorite memory from London.
It was an honor to serve as the Chef de Mission and represent my country. Coming together to celebrate sportsmanship and a spirit of unity was meaningful to me personally. I had a chance to watch the semifinal and final games for both basketball and football, which was a lot of fun. I have a great respect for the dedication and commitment of athletes around the world who compete in the Olympics, and I'm very happy I had a chance to share in their preparation.
What do you think about the team this year?
The team is headed in a good direction. Coach Olsen has been around for a while and he understands the situation with the team, having been here through the good and bad times, and now this is an opportunity for him to show that his leadership can bring D.C. United back to glory. We have a good mix of high-potential young players and experienced veterans who have come on strong lately and I look forward to them achieving at an even higher level during the playoffs.
Part 2: United's owner on investing in DC and MLS