Mike Lee, who established sports public relations giant VERO Communications and masterminded campaigns such as Qatar’s stunning victory to host the 2022 World Cup, has died of a heart attack aged 61, the company announced Monday.
Lee — who leaves a widow, Heather, a son Alex and a stepson Euan — had forged a successful career in the sporting world with a succession of highs leading to VERO’s creation.
Having been UEFA’s director of communications, he enjoyed perhaps his greatest moment in the same role for London’s successful 2012 Olympic bid when they upset favourites Paris.
Lee, though, was to enjoy his own moment of success with Paris as VERO advised them on their bid for the 2024 Games — the only other bidders Los Angeles were eventually awarded rights to stage the 2028 Games.
“It is with enormous sadness that the Lee family and VERO Communications announce that Mike Lee passed away on Saturday (8 September) at the age of 61 from a heart attack,” read the statement from VERO.
Lee set up VERO in 2006 and amongst its successes aside from Qatar’s World Cup triumph he could count Pyeongchang’s winning the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, Rio’s 2016 Summer Games victory and the inclusion of rugby and surfing in the Games.
Lee had taken a back seat over the past year to study a Masters degree and pursue other interests in life — although he was prominent in Turkey’s present bid to host the 2024 European Football Championships.
The company said that thanks to Lee’s legacy and his building up a strong team “VERO is well positioned for the future”.
“My fellow Directors Clair Ashley, Sujit Jasani and I have been incredibly fortunate to have known and worked with Mike over many years,” said VERO director John Zerafa in a statement.
“He was a force in communications — always inspiring, challenging and innovative and leaves an indelible legacy in the world of sport.
“He will be deeply missed by all those who have worked with him, and been advised by him.
“On behalf of the entire VERO team, our thoughts are with Mike’s wife Heather, his son Alex and step-son Euan.”