david beckham | mls in miami

David Beckham on Miami MLS team: ‘This is my passion’

 
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mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

David Beckham vows to be a “150 percent” involved team owner whenever and wherever his Major League Soccer team kicks off in Miami.

He is eager to become an active member of the community and even looks forward to getting behind the wheel of a rental car and experiencing Miami traffic firsthand when he returns for a week-long visit in June.

“This is very personal to me,” he told the Miami Herald editorial board during an hour-and-a-half meeting Thursday. “In business, I don’t just give my name to something and say, ‘Do whatever you want.’ I am always 100 percent committed in every single way. I will be the face of this club for many, many years. I will be at almost every home game, maybe every game, and some away games as well.”

Beckham said owning a team in Miami has been his dream since he joined MLS seven years ago, and he plans to spend a lot of time here. He would like to get involved in local charities, and Wednesday night he attended an Overtown Youth Center event with former Heat great Alonzo Mourning.

“I’m here, personally, to give something back to a game I’ve loved for 22 years,” Beckham said. “People turn to me and say, ‘Why don’t you just go into management? Why don’t you coach?’ It would be a lot cheaper and a lot easier. But this is my passion.”

He said people questioned him when he came to MLS from Europe seven years ago, thought he was “taking the easy way out,” but he saw it as a chance to grow the sport in this country and leave a legacy behind.

“Twenty, 30 years from now, I want my children to walk into the Miami stadium and say, ‘My dad did this,’ ” Beckham said.

He fully believes he will be able to lure world-class players from the European leagues to play in Miami.

“If I could share with you the list of players who have called me and asked, ‘When is this Miami thing happening and can I play?’ you would be very happy with the names on that list,” Beckham said, smiling.

He will return to Miami in June, maybe catch one of the England World Cup tuneup matches at Sun Life Stadium on June 4 and June 7, and then head to Brazil for the World Cup with his three sons — Brooklyn, 15; Romeo, 11; and Cruz, 8. Baby sister, Harper, 2, will stay behind.

“I promised my boys I’d take them to a World Cup game when I’m not playing in the games, so they’re excited about doing that for the first time,” he said.

The Beckham boys are avid soccer fans and follow all the teams Beckham played for — Manchester United, Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris St. Germain.

“My eldest and youngest love Manchester United,” Beckham said. “My middle son supports Arsenal, which is controversial, but I don’t mind. I’ve learned to really like and respect Arsenal over the last five years. When I was a player it was different because there was a huge rivalry there, but they’re a great club. My boys can support whoever they want to support.”

Beckham and his sons have been closely following the thrilling final few weeks of the English Premier League season. Heading into Sunday’s final match, Liverpool and Manchester City are both in position to win the title.

“It’s been one of the most exciting ends to a season for quite a while,” he said. “Liverpool has been so close in the last few weeks, but I think it might be difficult for them to win the league now. A couple of bad results changed the whole thing for them. But you never know. That’s what’s great about the game. Man City could go lose on the weekend, and Liverpool could win and everything changes.

“I respect players like [Luis] Suarez, who have done so much for Liverpool this season. If Man City goes on and wins, it would be a shame for players like Steven Gerrard. I know how much he loves Liverpool, how much winning the league would mean to him.”

Speaking of winning, Beckham was asked whether he is concerned about South Florida’s fair-weather, fickle fan base. It’s no secret that other than the star-studded championship Heat team, the other local teams have struggled at the gate.

What would happen if his Miami MLS team struggled on the field and at the gate?

“We won’t,” Beckham said.

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