Who Is NPSL Chairman Joe Barone? Amateur Soccer’s Leading Man
Intelligent and impatient, driven and focused, Joe Barone is the Chairman for the NPSL and manages the trading room for Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena Bank, is the oldest bank in Italy. Working 24/7, Barone dedicates his time to making the NPSL a success. Barone, who does not take a salary from NPSL, is a fan of Jurgen Klinsman’s vision for soccer in this country. Personally he would like to see the MLS-NASL-USLPRO-NPSL-PDL unify to allow promotion / relegation, the NPSL to be the foundation of the US Soccer development pyramid with over 100 profitable teams in 100 communities. Barone is definitely a force changing soccer in America.
Diane Scavuzzo: As Chairman of the Board, Joe Barone, when did you become involved with the NPSL? Why the NPSL?
Joe Barone: We – the Brooklyn Italians – joined the league NPSL in 2010. It was an opportunity, we saw a vision of a growing league since we had for many years applied to the USL but due to franchising territory they would not take our organization.
Diane Scavuzzo: Centered in the community, what about the NPSL attracted you most, besides the fact that you couldn’t join the USL?
Joe Barone: The NPSL is about clubs like mine that have been left out of many projects in American soccer. We are making a difference in American soccer with the NPSL.
Diane Scavuzzo: Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Joe Barone: I was born in Pozzallo, Italy a small beach town, & grew up in Brooklyn New York were I live now.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you look back, when did you passion for soccer start?
Joe Barone: It started in the street in Italy.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who are your favorite soccer players? Who do you root for behind closed doors?
Joe Barone: I am a Juventus fan, inspired by players like Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli, and Roberto Bettega. Those are the players who paved the road for Italy to win the World Cup in 1982.
Diane Scavuzzo: What super power would you like to have and why?
Joe Barone: I would want to have the power to revamp US Soccer greatest asset; the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is right with soccer in this country?
Joe Barone: The game has grown tremendously at a professional level here in the USA since 1996 and the start of MLS; we owe a lot to the owners and to the people who have made this growth possible. Now, we have players making a living from playing the game. America’s goal now is to win the World Cup.
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes soccer so different in America than the rest of the world?
Joe Barone: We don’t have promotion and relegation or a system that unites all the pro leagues.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do we need the NPSL?
Joe Barone: We need a strong foundation for amateur soccer in America. The NPSL is selective on admitting teams to join and we view ourselves as a key vehicle for player development in the U.S. We want our players to move up to the ranks of professional and last year. NPSL held its first Combine recently. This was our creative solution to provide exposure for our players – the NPSL picked up the players’ expenses from the time they arrived to the time they left. A total of 68 players participated and we reached out to every pro team in the country.
Diane Scavuzzo: How successful was the NPSL Combine?
Joe Barone: For our first year, it was very well attended. A lot of USL Pro coaches came to watch our players, along with NASL coaches from some of the country’s top markets including NY.
Diane Scavuzzo: Have you played pro? Where? When?
Joe Barone: I never played pro, I grew up playing in the local New York Leagues in Eastern New York.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did you play in college?
Joe Barone: I played at St. Francis College, as a midfielder.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you first start to play soccer? Where did you train as a youth player?
Joe Barone: I started playing soccer in the streets of Italy and then came to USA as an eight-year-old and played for a local team in Brooklyn called Pozzallo. We trained in a dirt field called Red Hook Park in Brooklyn.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your mentor and why?
Joe Barone: My mentor is Carlo Tramontozzi who was my College Coach at St. Francis College. Carlo is an Italian American immigrant who gave the opportunity to many local immigrants the avenue to attend College.
Diane Scavuzzo: Your son plays soccer … what are his dreams?
Joe Barone: I have four kids, Peter (23) just graduated with a Masters from London School of Economics, Gabriella (21) a senior at St. Joseph College majoring in speech pathology, Salvatore (19) is a sophomore at St. Francis College. He has made the NCAA Division 1 playoff two years in a row and plays for Brooklyn Italians, Giuseppe (16) attends Xaverian High School and is a Junior. He also plays for Brooklyn Italians. I tell them to get a good education. Like every player, they have dreams of playing at the highest level possible.