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21 April 2024

Beckham announces plans to bring MLS club to Miami


David Beckham said on Wednesday that he will buy a US team to play Major League Soccer in Miami, confirming the worst-kept secret in world football.

The former England and Manchester United star said he already has big-name players phoning him up and pledged to create a "global team" like the huge European clubs where he became a superstar.

"I wanted to create a team where we can start from scratch," Beckham told a packed press conference at a downtown Miami art museum, explaining his decision to bring the expanding league's 22nd soccer club to the city.

"I know there was a team here 10 years ago that unfortunately folded, but I know that Miami is ready for football again," he said.

"We're planning to bring a team that will be a global team," he said, arguing that in the past decade American soccer had made huge progress as both a sport and a business.

The former England midfielder, who wore a slim-fitting gray suit and tie despite the 82 degree Fahrenheit (28 C) weather, said one of his partners would be British pop music and television impresario Simon Fuller, who managed Beckham's wife Victoria when she sang with the Spice Girls.

Beckham, who reportedly paid a cut price $25 million for the franchise, said his wife and family would join him in Miami.

He did not disclose when the team would be ready for action, but reports suggest it will be in 2016 or 2017.

"This is going to be a people's team," he told a throng of media, as a helicopter buzzed overhead and a small plane whizzed past dragging a banner that read: "Beckham, don't trust Gimenez," referring to local Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The former United and Real Madrid star said he had high hopes for the MLS, where he featured for LA Galaxy before retiring last year following a stint with Paris Saint-Germain.

"I've seen the change over the last 10 years. I've seen the change in this league, the interest in this league," the 38-year-old said, as fans chanted: "One David Beckham, there's only one David Beckham!"

"We want to bring some of the best football players in the world, great players, to this team. Players are already interested in coming to Miami.

"We are very excited about this project. Miami is a vibrant city and a city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football, for soccer.

"I'm going to work hard to make this team very successful. It's an exciting time.

"We want to create a football club that is a people's football club. This is a dream... I've lived the dream."

Asked if his former manager at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson, had been in contact over a coaching role, Beckham said: "Funnily enough no, he didn't call me or text me."

The pair famously fell out and Ferguson shipped Beckham out to Real Madrid, although relations have warmed since.

Beckham spoke to reporters alongside MLS commissioner Don Garber, who said Beckham and the league would work with Miami Dade county to build a world-class downtown stadium for the new club.

Beckham thanked Garber and Miami Dade's Mayor Gimenez, and said he would not seek public funding for the team's stadium, having raised money from private partners.

The new club - which does not yet have a name - is looking to build a stadium for 25,000 spectators, with reports suggesting Beckham is eyeing up a prominent location close to the water.

Miami has been without a football team since the Miami Fusion folded more than a decade ago, but Beckham - whose popularity and fame endures despite retirement from the game - will be hoping his star pulling power can be the difference.

"This is the first time in the modern era that an ex-athlete is joining the ranks of ownership," Garber said.