11:00 a.m., March 1, 2020
A new shade lights up Major League Soccer (MLS), the American professional championship: the pale pink of Inter Miami, the new franchise stamped with David Beckham. Sunday evening (11:30 p.m. French time) in Los Angeles, Club International de Fútbol Miami will play its first official match. A project that took a long time to see the light of day and which still has gray areas.
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Who is the Boss?
When he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, David Beckham negotiated with the American League the right to create a franchise at an ultra-preferential rate (25 million dollars instead of 150). After a failed first round of funding, the Englishman brought together reliable partners in 2017. Wealthy businessmen to whom he sold shares (more expensive than he had bought them, we imagine) and who are the real club bosses. Shareholder and president of soccer operations, Beckham is above all the head of the gondola; no one is talking about Nashville, which is also getting into MLS. His aura and his interpersonal skills should also serve more to attract the star who is lacking than to perfect the Latino recruitment.
Fear on the stadium
Inter Miami will play their first home game on March 14 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The enclosure, which finishes being relifted and is to serve as a training center afterwards, is supposed to help out two seasons. It will be more. “No earlier than 2023,” says an insider. After four projects reworked in a city where space is scarce, a place was found: 64 hectares of a golf course near the airport. Except that blockages persist and that the work has still not started. More than the 28,000-seat stadium, the entire complex (hotels, shopping center, offices, etc.) is nevertheless at the heart of the business model. The cost would be close to a billion dollars.
British media recently claimed that Qatar Airways would be the jersey sponsor of Inter Miami; photos circulated on the networks, but the jersey officialized Monday is blank. On the side of the franchise as from Qatari source, it is assured that no agreement has been signed. But the rumor of a global deal over $ 200 million is insistent. Since his stint at PSG (2013), David Beckham has maintained close ties with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). The fund had even studied the possibility of investing in the project. BeIN’s US headquarters are also in Miami. An investment would make sense. So far, nothing has materialized. And this prospect does not delight all supporters.
Inter vs. Inter
For the appellation, Beckham and his associates hesitated between Inter and Atlético Miami. Perhaps it would have been better to choose the second option. In 2014, Inter Milan filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – the American equivalent of the National Institute of Industrial Property – a request for the name « Inter » to be an exclusive trademark. The Italian club therefore attacked MLS over its Miami franchise. Last I heard, the USPTO reportedly rejected the American League’s argument that the use of the abbreviation Inter was widespread. As it stands, the club can continue to use it, but the risk of having to change its name exists.