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Island resident steps into the world of an agent
There is a story behind every one of the estimated 50 to 100 soccer jerseys in Jeffery Gingold’s collection.
Each time he touches one of them, he enjoys talking a bit about how he got it, the player and what they accomplished.
His most valuable jersey – an Alexi Lalas jersey from when he played for the U.S. national team – is one of many that was given to him by his friend Per Pedersen, a former striker for the Denmark national team.
Gingold can’t help but laugh when he tells the story of how Pedersen got the jersey.
“He scored four goals – and Lalas was marking him,” he said, referring to the “Danish Dynamite” and its 4-1 win over the U.S. in the now defunct U.S. Cup in January 1997.
“Lalas gave him his jersey after the game – he basically took his jersey from him,” he said.
Gingold hopes he can make sure players get the chance to make those kinds of memories now that he’s earned his license to be a professional agent in the sport of soccer.
The license is issued through the United States Soccer Federation per FIFA regulations, as they want agents to be licensed through their respective national soccer federations.
Gingold is one of 83 licensed player agents in the nation and the first in the Pacific Northwest to be awarded a license.
A lawyer and shareholder for Lane Powell PC in Seattle, Gingold didn’t grow up a fan of the game.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and also lived in Florida for a few years. He liked baseball (his head coach in high school was former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher and NL Rookie of the Year Joe Black), but he also did some cross country. Gingold came to love distance running and ran 10 marathons in the 80’s.
He attended Washington and Lee University to earn his bachelor’s degree, then attended John Marshall Law School in Chicago to earn his juris doctor in law.
But it was his second trip to Denmark in 1972 – when he met his future wife Anne-Marie – that he came to love the game of soccer.
“Her brother and sister were really big soccer fans,” he said. “I hadn’t really followed it much, but they started taking me to matches at the (Parken) in Copenhagen” (to see then amateur side Copenhagen KB, now known as F.C. Copenhagen.)
He saw several big wins by the Danish national men’s soccer team at the Parken over the years and was at the stadium the year the team won the European championship in 1992. He also took part in pickup games across the stadium on Saturday mornings.
After graduation in 1976, he moved back to New Jersey and took a job as a judicial clerk at the Superior Court of Essex County for a year, then moved to the office of public defender as a trial attorney. At night, he attended NYU’s law school to earn his Master of Laws in international law. When he had the time, he attended New York Cosmos matches with a soccer-crazed coworker.
He also started playing with a Peruvian amateur team in a South American league in New Jersey and got his first taste of what would be his future as an agent.
“I was the token gringo,” he said. “I think the only reason they let me play with them was because I was a lawyer and I could get them out of the immigration holding cell. We never knew which players were going to get busted.”
Gingold worked his way west, living in Denver for six years as an attorney for two different insurance companies, then moved to Bainbridge Island in 1987 when he was hired as the senior vice president at Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska. In 1994 Gingold moved to his current position at Lane Powell.
He stopped playing soccer when he moved to Denver, but picked the game back up after moving to the island, and plays for two different teams in the Greater Seattle Soccer League and rec soccer when he isn’t bothered by an old Achilles injury. He also became a Seattle Sounders season ticket holder back when they played in the APSL and the USL.
Gingold said he always thought of being an agent. He gave advice to Pedersen and several other players from the Denmark national team that he befriended over the years, but had to pass due to his practice.
It wasn’t until he saw a documentary called “Soccer’s Lost Boys,” about unscrupulous agents that extort extravagant fees from young players and their families with the promise of playing in the big leagues, that inspired him.
“These guys convince their families that they are (the next) Didier Drogba,” Gingold said. “But what happens is they take the money, they take them to Eurpoe, they take them to a few tryouts and the kid doesn’t make the team. So they have no work permit, they’re there illegally. The agent doesn’t want anything to do with them so they wind up in prostitution and drug dealing.”
Gingold recently found his first player, a U-17 player for England and U-21 player for Poland (he has dual citizenship) who is interested in playing in the U.S.
He said he’ll focus on working with local teams in the Sounders and the Kitsap Pumas. He also wants to represent players who want to make it in the NASL, USL or MLS or play overseas in Europe. He also hopes to work as an agent in Denmark in eight to 10 years. Gingold said he wants to guide players who get successful towards charitable causes and work on a player’s plans after soccer.
“I want to do this right,” he said. “I know there are a lot of agents who are doing it right, but there are enough who aren’t doing it right. I think it’s a good time to get in and turn it around to the little extent that I can do it.”
To contact Gingold, visit his website.