Beckham, MLS Commish Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade County get the deal done.

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

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Following the glamorous unveiling of David Beckham’s new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami on Wednesday, one huge stumbling block lies in front of the powerful and wealth group bringing top-flight soccer back to South Florida…

Where will the team play?

The questions from members at the press conference announcing MLS’ 22nd team weren’t exactly the most hard hitting you’ll ever come across, but there was some talk about intentions to build a new soccer-specific stadium (SSS) in downtown Miami.

But Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade county Carlos Jimenez all gave off the impression that a stadium deal is quite a long way off. But Beckham revealed that it will be in downtown Miami.

That’s crucial.

“We can’t build a stadium in two weeks. This is obviously going to take time,” Beckham explained. “The next major thing is getting the right partners and getting the right investors. We want to build a stadium in Miami, the City of Miami and the people of Miami deserve a stadium they are proud of. They deserve a stadium that is in a great place. No, we can’t build a stadium in six months. But once we have the site and once we work with the mayor and his commissioner and the people of Miami, we will be very quickly hopefully.”

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

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

With talk of Beckham planning to finalize MLS’ newest franchise for months, it seems the issue of where the stadium would be has held things up. Considerably. Following the previous issues in the South Florida sports landscape, as the Miami Marlins had huge issues with the $2.4 billion worth of public funding given to them by Miami-Dade county and controversy dragging on for years, this is not an easy place to work with local officials.

However Mayor Jimenez is extremely committed to the stadium project.

“We don’t only want to create an iconic stadium, we want to create a great public space,” Jimenez said.  “We want it to become an additional amenity to what is happening downtown. If you come back here in five years, you won’t even recognize this place. That stadium needs to be part of the fabric of Miami and we can accomplish together. And it will be something that we will both be proud of now and into the future and something that will be left for our children and our grandchildren.”

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

So Becks and his wealthy consortium, including the likes of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, Beckham’s long-time PR agent Simon Fuller and Bolivian Businessman Marcelo Claure, are pumping in the money themselves to build the stadium.

“We don’t want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves,” Beckham announced. “It’s something that we’ve worked very hard to get to this stage.”

So, that’s a promising step as the funds are in place to build the stadium and no additional cost will be put on the Miami-Dade county. However in terms of timeline, we should see Miami arriving into MLS for the 2017 season (again that wasn’t confirmed at the press conference) so they better get a shift on with building this spectacular stadium.

Click to enlarge: Point A is where Beckham held the press conference, it is likely the stadium may be at Watson Island to the East or Bayfront Park to the South.

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

But what about a specific location?

Reports out of Miami — long-time soccer reporter Michelle Kauffman has been detailing this project since the get-go has this expansive piece on the topic — suggest that the search for a stadium site for Beckham’s MLS franchise are wide-ranging and complicated.

From building a stadium near Miami Beach, using space next to SunLife Stadium, on college campuses or having it situated in neighboring towns and cities, the options have been numerous for Beckham’s people to unravel. But after the former LA Galaxy star stated the Mayor and his commissioners plan for the stadium to be built downtown, here are three likely options:

  • Watson IslandThink of PNC Park or AT&T Park, and you will see something very similar here with one of the most spectacular views from any stadium in the USA. This island is on one of the main causeways from downtown Miami to Miami beach, is home to the Miami yacht club and would be a spectacular venue. Space is tight, but if they are dreaming of creating a legacy, this could be it.
  • Bayfront ParkThis area is extremely close to where the announcement was made on Wednesday and is right by the water in downtown MIA. In the past many other stadiums have been planned in this area but fallen down due to lack of space. But if there’s only going to be a 25-30,000 SSS in this area, it could work extremely well. Plus the American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat, is just across the street.
  • Miami World Center The old site of Miami Arena is due to be regenerated with new shops, bars, restaurants and an entirely new transport hub in the next few years. This area is smack bang in the middle of downtown Miami and a soccer stadium would be the key part of the jigsaw to help this part of town become a focal point once again.

One last word from Beckham on the SSS, as he revealed that it would indeed be downtown and he aims to create a stadium that is easily accessible for fans in the heart of Miami.

“The Commissioner, the board, the Mayor has promised we will be downtown. It is important that we are in this part of the city, [Perez Art Museum in the eastern half of Miami’s central area, just across the water from Miami beach]. I have seen what the Miami Heat they have done and the arena they have created. Soccer fans love to commute and love to walk to games, it is a community. I have seen what it is like in Seattle, the passion and the fans, the way it is there. I know we are going to have that here.”

But where exactly will it be, David?

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City FC
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Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms
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LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.

VIDEO: Gerrard returns to Liverpool for training in MLS offseason

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
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Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

The legendary midfielder, 35, has returned to the Reds just six months after leaving his hometown club for a new adventure in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Gerrard spent a glittering 17-years at Anfield, guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League title and winning every other major title except for the elusive Premier League crown.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

After suffering an early exit from the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs with the Galaxy, Gerrard is now back in England and he’s using his time at home to train with Liverpool’s first-team and help out in any way he can as Jurgen Klopp has allowed him to come back into the dressing room he called home for nearly two decades.

“It’s a good situation,” Klopp said. “Everybody had a smile on their face when they saw Stevie. It’s good to have him here and we hope we can help him, and he can help us for sure with being in the dressing room. It’s cool.”

Below are photos and videos from Gerrard’s return as Klopp once again quashed any rumors regarding a loan move for the former Liverpool skipper who will enter his first full MLS season in 2016 with the Galaxy.

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
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PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.