David Beckham announced he'd be bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami well over a year ago, and hasn't said much since. It appears however that Beckham will be beaten to being the first to bring professional soccer back to the 305. The North American Soccer League, America's Division II league, announced today that they'll be bringing a team to Miami and they'll start play next year.
Dubbed Miami FC (for football club, in case you're not familiar with such conventions), the club will be co-owned by Riccardo Silva, the president of a sports media rights firm, and Paolo Maldini, a retired Italian soccer superstar whose legacy rivals that of Beckham's own. In fact, Beckham and Maldini were once teammates during Beckham's stint at AC Milan.
The official announcement from NACL includes two key phrases that almost seem aimed at Beckham's flailing plans:
- "Miami FC, which will be the city’s only professional soccer club..."
- "Miami FC will play its home games in one of the existing world-class stadiums of Miami."
Beckham and his group of course are trying to find a place to build their own brand new stadium ... they just can't find any property they seem to like. It's not clear what stadium Miami FC will call home, but the journey of finding a home should be much shorter than Beckham's.
“I’m proud and excited to be part of this venture," said Maldini in a statement. "I strongly believe in the growth of soccer in the USA, and this is the perfect project to develop a top-class soccer team in one of the most important cities in the world. We are glad not only to bring a professional soccer team to Miami, but also to support all of its communities through our social responsibility commitment. We believe that the fast-growing NASL will be the perfect platform to develop a successful team and a valuable business. Miami has been my second home for 15 years, so I look forward to spending more and more time here as Co-owner of Miami FC, giving my enthusiastic contribution for its success.”
"As Miami moves forward in the world of business and arts, we feel that it’s a good time to also take a step further in the world of sports and soccer, and we will do that with dedication and passion, bringing our business and soccer expertise," added Silva.
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The Miami team will be the 12th for the NASL, a second-tier league founded in 2009. It sits between MLS and the United Soccer League.
Interestingly, South Florida already has a NASL team: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers. That team began play in the USL back in 2006 as Miami F.C. when they played in Tropical Park Stadium. That team moved to Broward, took the name of an older Fort Lauderdale team, and left the USL for the NASL. Yes, this is all rather complicated, but the bottom line is the new team finally gives Miami and Fort Lauderdale the opportunity to have their own competing pro-teams (minor league though they may be) to rival each other.
NASL also has two other Florida teams in Jacksonville and Tampa.