David Beckham’s quest to launch a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise will finally come to fruition on Sunday when Inter Miami makes its competitive debut in a season-opening clash with Los Angeles FC. A tortuous six-year journey marked by setbacks and frustrations will be put firmly in the rear view mirror as Beckham’s expansion side take to the field at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium.
Speaking at a MLS media event in New York on Wednesday, Beckham admitted there were times when he feared his plans to launch a team were doomed. But the former England and Manchester United star said his determination to create a lasting legacy in the United States had helped him keep the faith.
Beckham first announced his plan to become a team owner in 2014, exercising an agreement written into his contract after joining the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007. However, Beckham soon realized his status as a global icon would not be enough on its own to realize his vision for South Florida.
The introduction in December 2017 of Jorge and Jose Mas, the Miami-based construction magnates, helped smooth the process. “We all had our doubts and many people doubted us,” Beckham said Wednesday.
“There was one moment when I was sitting in my house and we were all on the phone to (MLS) commissioner Don Garber. He was telling us how hard it would be and I agreed. There were definitely moments where we said: ‘Honestly, do we think this will happen?’ But I remember getting an e-mail from the Mas family to see if there was any interest in them becoming part of the club so we contacted Jorge and that was the dream partnership for us. It was the game-changer and for me in particular.”
- LEAVING A LEGACY -
“I’m from East London, not Miami so for me going there and trying to buy a piece of land, talk to politicians wasn’t getting us anywhere, funnily enough. I didn't want to be in partnership with someone who was just doing this for vanity reasons. They aren’t and neither am I. I want to create a legacy in the game that my children can turn around in 20 years and say: ‘My dad helped build this club.'"
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Inter Miami will play its first home game at its new 20,000-seat stadium in Fort Lauderdale on March 14 -- against Beckham’s former team LA Galaxy. Beckham, meanwhile, stressed investing in the talent pool in Florida is a key part of his strategy for Inter Miami. For now, though, he is simply relieved to have reached Sunday’s kick-off.
“I am more persistent than I thought I was and more stubborn than my wife thinks I am,” said Beckham. “Everything we have tried to do to get the franchise up and running has been a challenge. There hasn’t been just one thing. Finding the land, picking the stadium we want, the players, the manager, even down to the tiles we want in the showers."
“There wasn’t one moment when I was going to walk away though, because I knew Miami was the right place to do this and my commitment was always to the MLS. I want to try and grow the sport here and want us to be one of the best and most feared franchises.”
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