Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Tuesday that the club has made a structural shift by combining the positions of CEO and sporting director into one role and effective immediately Axel Schuster will lead all aspects of the club. Schuster will continue to report directly to co-owner and executive chair Jeff Mallett and the ownership group. As a result of this restructuring, Mark Pannes is no longer with the club.

“On behalf of the ownership group, we are extremely proud of the numerous accomplishments and unwavering commitment by every member of the Whitecaps team across the club during these challenging times,” said Mallett. “The club has been active in helping those in need and remains focused on supporting our community members, supporters, and business partners. We are thankful to Mark Pannes for all his positive contributions to the club the last few months and his active role in a number of these successful community programs. He has been a passionate leader and we wish him all the best in the future.

“As we begin to rally around the return of MLS play with the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament and our players returning to full training, now more than ever is the time to focus our club’s efforts in all areas,” continued Mallett. “It’s with that strategic initiative that we have decided to combine the CEO and sporting director roles under Axel Schuster. Since joining the club last year, Axel has proven to be a thoughtful, professional, and highly effective leader who has not only laid the foundation for a best in class sporting environment but also has been a key contributor on the executive team overseeing all aspects of the club. Axel is ready to make additional impactful contributions with this CEO appointment.”

“First, I want to say thank you to Mark,” added Schuster. “I enjoyed working with Mark, we shared a strong partnership and friendship. I wish him the very best.

“We are a club that believes in the power of teamwork and the mentality of our group. Paired with a strong commitment to our culture, we will continue on our chosen path to build a winner on and off the pitch. I am thankful to the ownership for their trust and belief in me. These are exceptional times, and our focus will be on positioning the club to come through this even stronger and more united than before.”

Schuster joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC as sporting director in November of 2019. In addition to his vast experience as a soccer executive and sporting director, Schuster was actively involved in the business operations and revenue generation at FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke. Schuster earned his law degree at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and is fluent in German, English and Spanish.