How would Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami be any different this time around?

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On Wednesday David Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos Jimenez announced that Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise will be based in Miami.

The worst kept secret in U.S. soccer is finally out.

But, as there always is with MLS expansion franchises, there are plenty of doubts as to whether a Major League Soccer side in South Florida is a good idea.

Of course, we’ve been down this road before and it ended it tears with the Miami Fusion lasting less than four years after being dissolved due to many issues back in 2001. At the time Garber said the following about soccer in Miami:

“While Miami had the third lowest average attendance, it had the lowest revenue in the league this year (2001), including fewer season tickets which are upfront money that have a higher yield for each team. They (Miami) had almost no revenue from corporate sponsorships. The issue in Miami is the lack of revenue and the lack of future potential revenue. It really lacked viability as a business.”

(MORE: Official – Beckham announces Miami will be Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise)

Why will it be a different story for soccer in Miami in 2014 and beyond?

Here’s a few reasons to get you thinking…

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Brand Beckham and his wealthy investors intend to make soccer a success in South Florida.

David Beckham factor

With his own brand flourishing even further since his retirement from the game, Beckham brings an X-Factor that was never present in Miami back at the turn of the last century. Despite Carlos Valderrama being around and some terrific performances from the Fusion under Ray Hudson as coach in their final season in the league. MLS was in its infancy and bleeding money, with the league estimated to have lost over $250 million in its first few years. Miami had the lowest season tickets sold and revenue and sponsorship streams were almost non-existence. That, coupled with the relatively frugal spending of Chairman Ken Hororwitz and the other investors, proved too much for MLS to handle as Miami and the Tampa Bay Mutiny ceased operations in 2001.

(MORE: Video – Relive how MLS’ last Miami side excelled in 2001, then got shut down)

Here’s a quote from Horowitz on the problems facing the Fusion on 2001: “My investors and I have invested close to $50 million in South Florida Soccer, the entity that operates the Miami Fusion, as well as a massive amount of personal time and emotional commitment. We’ve come to the conclusion that the South Florida market just has too many hurdles that we simply cannot overcome.”

If you build it, they will come

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Stadium site has been picked in Downtown Miami, will this may a big difference to attract fans?

Plans for a new downtown stadium near the harbor of Miami look swish, extravagant and everything you’d expect from a sports franchise in one of the USA’s most glamorous and tropical settings. A soccer-specific stadium close to downtown Miami would be something to behold, and as we’ve seen in Houston and will see in Orlando, a prime downtown location for your MLS team is exactly whats needed. That’s something the former MLS side in Miami didn’t have, as the Fusion played out near Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium, where fans couldn’t simply stroll across to the street from the fine bars and restaurants of central Miami to continue the party inside the stadium, and go out on the town afterwards. The only potential issue is that the various nationalities and backgrounds of the people of Miami will clash, and as we’ve seen with the Dolphins, Marlins and other pro Sports team in the area, fans are much more passionate about teams in their homelands rather than getting behind a local franchise.

(MORE: After Miami’s entry to MLS, big question remains – where will the stadium be?)

Prime real estate won’t come cheap for Becks and co. but it’s expected that the major announcement on Wednesday will also reveal plans for a SSS in the heart of Miami. This is a key reason why MLS in Miami could succeed this time.

The DP rule will play into Miami’s hands

A no-brainer here, as Beckham’s contacts across the world and his heady status as a global icon will surely attract top players who want to flock to South Beach towards the end of their careers. Playing in MLS for Miami will be one of the most attractive propositions for any player on the planet. The main focus will be getting bums on seats and fans to watch a spectacular team play. If Becks can work his contacts and bring in three HUGE Designated Players, then the people of Miami and the millions of tourists that flock there year round will without doubt fills the stands. Back when the Fusion folded, there were a few stars names like Valderrama but nobody that really jumped off the page. This time, that will be vastly different.

MORE: MLS back in Miami – Where does it rate on the league’s glamour scale?

MORE: Who’s left? With Miami confirmed, MLS down to two expansion slots

MORE: What They Said – Important quotes from Beckham’s MLS in Miami announcement

Referee leaders want on-field official to see video replays

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LONDON (AP) Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the net and was in full celebration mode with his France teammates when referee Felix Swayer pinned a finger into his left ear to block out the stadium noise.

[ VIDEO: VAR system used correctly

An assistant in front of a bank of monitors was assessing replays and had some bad news for Griezmann. Swayer was told through his earpiece that a player was offside in the buildup.

The goal was then ruled out, without Swayer seeing a replay. But that won’t necessarily be the case by the time video replays are fully approved to be rolled out across soccer.

For now, the experimental phase is still in full flow but if refereeing leaders get their way officials should always have access to the footage themselves around the field.

“The subjective decisions should be made by the on-field referee because they have got the feel for the game,” Mike Riley, general manager of English refereeing organization, told The Associated Press. “They can put it in the context of everything else. So as part of the process we have got to work out how we can do that as effectively as possible … without interrupting the flow of the game.”

The International Football Association Board, the game’s lawmaking body, is in its second year of trials with various versions of video assistant referees (VAR). Some games, like the France-Spain friendly, do not allow the referee to evaluate incidents and instead by rely on the VAR.

But VAR could end up only ruling on what Riley describes as “decisions of fact,” such as whether a ball was inside or outside the penalty area.

Ultimately, if you are appointing one of the top referees to preside over a major game, that person is seen as ideal for making the big calls, according to IFAB.

“Fundamentally we are told very much by players and coaches they want the referee to be making the most important decisions,” IFAB technical director David Elleray said, referencing England’s top referee. “They don’t know who is in a van out in the car park or 300 miles away in a match center.”

Soccer’s lawmakers only envisage video replays being used to correct game-changing decisions involving four situations: penalties being awarded, red cards, cases of mistaken identity and goals being scored.

That situation arose twice in the Stade de France on Tuesday as France lost 2-0 to Spain. After Griezmann’s goal was disallowed, video replays worked against France again but in Spain’s favor when an incorrect offside call against Gerard Deulofeu was overturned and his goal stood.

Swayer again relied on the information from a colleague benefiting from replays.

“Nicola Rizzoli was appointed to referee the last World Cup final because he is the best referee,” Elleray said. “But if actually the two most important decisions in the match are made by somebody watching a TV screen … the most important person is the man you put behind the TV screen not the man on the field.”

The challenges are how referees are able to view replays without lengthening the delay. For now the technology isn’t satisfactory for officials to use wearable devices and receive footage in real time. That means going to the side of the field to watch incidents with the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands on them. The screens are likely to be on the opposite side to the technical area to avoid coaches being able to surround and harangue the referee.

“Some of our stadiums don’t lend themselves to monitors by the side of the pitch because they are really tight,” said Riley, a former Premier League referee who is now in charge of appointments for games in the world’s richest soccer competition. “Is it right for referees to have to run 30 yards to go and look? Can you get the footage to the referee on the field somehow? All these things have to be explored through the experiment and come out with a solution that works for football.”

Live experiments are taking place in about 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July that will serves as a World Cup test event.

Once IFAB adds video replays to the laws of the game, any competition meeting the requirements will be able to use them.

For Riley, permitting replays is “the most significant change in refereeing in the game for generations,” far more significant than the 2012 decision to allow technology that simply determines whether the ball crossed the goal line.

“If you are making such a significant change,” Riley said, “you need to really explore and understand all the potential implications.”

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Amid fanfare, Bastian Schweinsteiger arrives in Chicago

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Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, it is clear Bastian Schweinsteiger is kind of a big deal…

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Posing for photos with fans as he stepped off the flight with his wife, former Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic, the former Bayern Munich midfielder was mobbed by Chicago Fire fans who are delighted he has arrived in Major League Soccer as the newest Designated Player.

The German legend has completed his move from Manchester United to the Fire and will be officially unveiled to the media on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal.

[ MORE: Latest MLS news ]

Schweinsteiger, 32, has already had a training session in the books and the World Cup winner is expected to make his debut in Chicago’s home clash with the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Below is a video of Schweinsteiger’s arrival in Chicago, his first training session and a collection of photos he took with ecstatic Fire fans.


Liverpool’s Emre Can scores stunning goal in training

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Emre Can, take a bow.

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Alongside Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, the German international stole the show as BT Sport rocked up for an episode of “Goals Recreated” at Melwood.

The premise is simple: can current day PL players recreate sensational goals of the past?

On this occasion each player had four attempts to mirror Papiss Cisse‘s stunning goal for Newcastle United against Chelsea, and although Mane came close Can was the man of the moment.

Click play on the video below to see the stunning effort.


Barcelona defends Messi over “unfair” suspension

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension for insulting a linesman was “unfair and totally disproportionate.”

[ MORE: Messi handed ban by FIFA ]

Barcelona released a statement Wednesday expressing “its surprise and indignation” with FIFA’s decision to sideline the playmaker for so long following the incident in Argentina’s win over Chile in World Cup qualifying last week.

The punishment was announced before Argentina lost at Bolivia 2-0 Tuesday, a result that left the two-time champions at risk of not qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona says it “wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the field.”

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina’s final qualifier, on Oct. 10 against Ecuador.