While South Florida soccer fans have been glued to the World Cup, David Beckham and his partners, eager to capitalize on that passion, have been working behind the scenes on their soon-to-be-named Miami Major League Soccer team.
According to Beckham’s partner, Jorge Mas, they are “really close” to finalizing the team name, colors, and shield. “We are just going through final vetting and trademark issues, and all those announcements are imminent,” he said by phone Wednesday.
Among the names being considered are Futbol Club Internacional de Miami (Inter Miami) and Futbol Club Atletico Miami (Atletico Miami), both of which would make sense with the city’s international flair and Hispanic influence. The ownership group also registered variations of the name Miami Freedom, but it is more likely one of the traditional soccer names will be chosen.
Mas said he in the process of hiring a general manager, and he has narrowed it down to a few finalists — both with extensive MLS experience at “very successful” clubs. He hopes to have the GM in place “by the end of July.”
The Beckham group is also beginning to target coaching candidates and will start interviewing sometime in July. Among the names who have come up in published reports in Europe are Carlo Ancelotti, Zinedine Zidane and Bruce Arena, all of whom have close ties to Beckham.
Ancelotti, the former Bayern Munich boss who worked with Beckham at Paris Saint-Germain, seems unlikely as he just accepted a job with Napoli. French legend Zidane, who played with Beckham in Spain, is unemployed after abruptly stepping down as Real Madrid coach four days after leading the team to a third consecutive Champions League trophy. He has not revealed any career plans, though he would be a natural choice to coach the French national team.
Arena coached Beckham with the Los Angeles Galaxy, has won five MLS Cup titles and coached the United States in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. He was rehired as U.S. national coach to replace Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016, and the team appeared to be turning around, but then lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Most of Mas’ time has been spent on the proposed stadium plans, which switched location from Overtown to the site of the Melreese golf course next to Miami International Airport.
Beckham’s group wants to redevelop 70 of the 160 acres of publicly owned land into a soccer village that would include the stadium, a hotel, convention space, a tech hub, retail and public soccer fields. The remaining 90 acres would remain as a park, including the existing water park and baseball facility.
Mas has been meeting with city commissioners during the past few weeks, including three meetings Wednesday. He said he is “very optimistic” about the project and encouraged by the reception of commissioners so far. He said he will reveal details and drawings of the plans to the public on July 11 or 12. Beckham is expected to be in town for that presentation. The Miami commissioners meet on July 12.
“These meetings I’ve been having were first-time presentations of our plans to City of Miami Commissioners,” Mas said. “I am highlighting our visions for a project that is transformational and will benefit the taxpayers of the city and county. This is a project that will benefit the citizens of our city and provide a unique fan experience like no other in the country.”
In the meantime, the ownership group has been quietly rolling out promotional “This is Miami” video snippets on social media that offer a glimpse of how the team will be marketed. Each video features upbeat music, bright colors and a diverse collection of South Florida soccer fans with the underlying message that this team will belong to the community.
One video slogan says: "Wherever you come from. Wherever you play. Whatever your story. This club belongs to you."
Another says: "These are the people of our city. This is the culture of the game. They are the story of our sport. This club belongs to them."
Beckham is featured in one video titled "Welcome to the world's most inclusive futbol club."