CHICAGO (Oct. 18, 2022) — Chicago Fire FC today announced a series of moves at the club leadership level.
The club has exercised the 2023 contract options for Sporting Director Georg Heitz and Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer. The 2023 season will mark Heitz and Pelzer's fourth campaign in Chicago.
Additionally, Ishwara Glassman Chrein will move on from her position as president of business operations due to personal reasons. FC Lugano CEO Martin Blaser will serve as Interim President of Business Operations, overseeing the business functions of both organizations.
"I'm pleased that Georg and Sebastian will return in 2023," said owner/chair Joe Mansueto. "Going into next season, we feel that we have established a strong foundation with a new coaching staff, led by Ezra Hendrickson, and a core group of players to build around."
Originally joining the Fire in December 2019, Heitz and Pelzer are responsible for overseeing the Club's football operations.
During their first three seasons in Chicago, the Club has achieved several successes and milestones such as:
The transfers of homegrown goalkeeper Gabriel "Gaga" Slonina and Polish international Przemysław Frankowski to top-five leagues. Slonina's transfer included a Club-record, multi-million-dollar sale to Chelsea FC.
The youngest international player signing in MLS history — Colombian forward Jhon Durán — on Jan. 11, 2021. In 2022, his first season with the Club, the 18-year-old led the team in goals scored, tallying eight goals in 14 starts, including three multi-goal games.
The re-establishment of the Chicago Fire Football Academy as a focal point of the Club's sporting strategy.
The signing of 10 homegrown Players to first-team contracts.
Establishment of Chicago Fire FC II in MLS NEXT Pro, completing the professional pathway from the Club's Academy to its first team.
The CFFC Academy winning the inaugural U-19 MLS NEXT Cup in July 2021, as well as the tournament's Golden Ball (Sergio Oregel Jr.) and Golden Boot (Missael Rodríguez).
On the business side, Glassman Chrein departs the organization after expanding the club's front office relationships within Chicago's corporate and civic communities during her tenure.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to have been president of the Chicago Fire. I have loved my time at the Fire, and I'd like to thank Joe Mansueto, the staff, the players, the fans, the sponsors, and the city of Chicago for being so welcoming to me and my family," said Glassman Chrein. "I am so proud of the progress that the Fire has made over the past 18 months, and I will always be a fan. Although I enjoyed my role at the Fire, it has been extremely challenging for my family and I to be away from our home, close friends, and family in New York City. With the offseason now underway, it felt like the right time to transition back home and pursue other opportunities. I wish nothing but the best for the Club moving forward and will continue to support the Fire from afar."
"Ishwara expressed her desire to move on from her position in order to be closer to her family, and I was supportive of that decision," added Mansueto. "I've enjoyed working with Ishwara and have appreciated all her efforts to grow the business side of the Club. We wish Ishwara and her family all the best for the future."
Blaser, who was appointed CEO of FC Lugano in August 2021, brings more than 30 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry. In his first season with the Club, FC Lugano won the Swiss Cup for the first time in nearly 30 years, defeating St. Gallen 4-1 at Wankdorf Stadium on May 15.
"I've had the opportunity to work with Martin during the last year and have been impressed with his work at FC Lugano," Mansueto continued. "Given his extensive experience in the industry and the synergies that already exist between the two Clubs, we felt that Martin was the right person to lead the Fire's business operations during this transition. On the sporting side of the Club, I'm pleased that Georg and Sebastian will return in 2023."