Rebuilding the culture of the Chicago Red Stars has been an important recurring theme for the club since a change in ownership in the fall.
The Red Stars are embarking on a rebirth or, as new general manager Richard Feuz put it in his native French, a renaissance. When Feuz, named to the GM position Monday, breaks down what it will take to create sustained success for the Red Stars, it goes beyond accumulating wins when the National Women’s Soccer League season begins next month.
“I think we’re in front of a renaissance,” Feuz told the Tribune. “We’ll go through amazing moments, maybe lower moments, but we have to trust the process. … I promise we’ll work as hard as we can to make that happen and make people happy coming back to the stadium.”
After 7 1/2 years in Geneva with Switzerland’s Servette Football Club on the men’s and women’s side, Feuz, 32, was ready to take a new path. He served as the club’s chief executive officer since 2020 as well as the president and sporting director of Servette’s women’s team since 2017.
“Richard has a proven record in building championship-level organizations, having led the Servette Football Club through years of success on and off the pitch,” Red Stars executive chairperson Laura Ricketts said in a statement. “His experience will be invaluable as we begin this new chapter for the Chicago Red Stars.”
Job interviews typically feature the candidate doing most of the talking and outlining their plans for the role. In this case, Ricketts first shared with Feuz her vision and future projects for the Red Stars.
“When she was talking I felt like I was talking because I felt we have the same view, the same vision and, moreover, the same passion for more than the game,” Feuz said. “The same passion for empowerment in women’s sport, women’s soccer and having the same view on putting players first and before seeing them as players, technical staff or leaders, seeing them as human beings.
“I chose to come here to Chicago because I know we have a lot of challenges ahead, but this vision and this passion from the leadership is for me the most important.”
In his position, Feuz is responsible for all Red Stars soccer operations, including managing the coaching, performance, training and administration staff as well as the construction of the team roster with player acquisitions, trades or releases. Lorne Donaldson was named as the head coach in December, and over the last three weeks the Red Stars have acquired 12 players, most notably re-signing Mallory Swanson to a historic long-term deal, trading the No. 3 pick in January’s draft for 2023 NWSL defender of the year finalist Sam Staab and signing Finnish defender Natalia Kuikka.
In his time with Servette, Feuz oversaw the women’s club’s steady rise in Switzerland. They won the AXA Women’s Super League, the top women’s league in Switzerland, four consecutive times (2019-23) and qualified for the UEFA Women’s Champions League from 2020-22. The experience taught Feuz the need for patience when rebuilding an organization.
During the Red Stars’ preseason camp, currently taking place at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Feuz’s first focus is to get time with every player and staff member to talk about the future and prepare for their regular-season opener March 16 in Utah.
“I truly believe that if you want to win games, if you want to win championships and build a strong culture, we first have to make the player happy,” Feuz said. “When I say happy, it’s happy to come every day to work, and when I talk about the player obviously it’s also about the technical staff. Make them happy to come every day. Make them safe to come into their work environment and just bring back the fun here in Chicago.”