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Miami voters OK path for Beckham’s stadium, complex

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MIAMI (AP) David Beckham’s long-planned soccer stadium deal is closer to reality.

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Miami voters gave city officials permission Tuesday to negotiate a no-bid lease deal with Beckham’s group, which wants to build a Major League Soccer complex on what has been a public golf course. Beckham’s group is also planning to have technology offices, a hotel and retail space on the land, in return for guaranteeing the city about $3.6 million in rent annually.

It’s not a done deal: Now the retired soccer star and his partners must negotiate the terms with city officials for the 25,000-seat stadium and transforming the rest of what is now the Melreese Country Club into a 58-acre (23-hectare) public park.

Tuesday’s win was the first big one for Beckham’s club, officially named Club Internacional de Futbol Miami – or Inter Miami. Beckham has considered and wanted several other sites over the years, before turning his attention to Melreese in recent months.

“I started this dream five and a half years ago … to bring a team to Miami, to bring a team to this great city,” Beckham said at a rally Tuesday night. “To bring a team to you, the people. We’ve had some speed bumps along the way. We’ve had a few problems along the way.”

Beckham’s group has also committed to spend about $35 million to clean up toxic waste at the site and pay a living wage for employees.

The land deal had critics on multiple fronts, with some like Miami native and longtime pro golfer Erik Compton asking voters to save the course and others filing legal challenges saying the city is required to not only have competitive bidding but to get fair market value when selling or leasing property.

“On behalf of all of us at Major League Soccer, we thank the community for its support, and Miami city officials for their leadership,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber wrote in a thread on Twitter.

Beckham is a global icon when it comes to soccer, entertainment and fashion. He started his career with Manchester United and also played for Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. He was a fixture in international matches for England for years and won four championships in four different leagues around the globe.

“We’ve proved to the world that persistence, patience, makes things happen,” Beckham said. “We are going to bring a championship winning team. We are going to bring great players. We are going to create homegrown talent.”

FIFA not happy with La Liga’s USA plans

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President of FIFA Gianni Infantino doesn’t seem impressed with La Liga’s plans to play a regular-season game in Miami in January, 2019.

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Barcelona, Girona and La Liga have applied to the Spanish Football Federation to move their match on Jan. 26, 2019 from Girona’s home stadium to Miami, Florida in a bid to attract new fans.

It would be the first-ever La Liga game played overseas, but Infantino isn’t a fan of the idea.

“I think I would prefer to see a great MLS game in the U.S. rather than La Liga being in the U.S,” Infantino said in a statement to ESPN. “In football, the general principle is that you play a ‘home’ match at ‘home’, and not in a foreign country. There are procedures in place for these things, so we will wait to receive anything official and then we’ll look into it. There are rules, regulations, that everyone complies with. In particular, such a proposal has to be approved by the respective associations, by the respective confederations and FIFA should also express a view on the matter, not least since it would have implications for football at global level as well.”

With FIFA having to approve the move, is that the end of this?

Probably not, but it is clear that this game would cause plenty of problems as the Spanish players’ union have already expressed serious concerns about moving games to the U.S. and elsewhere to try and grow their global brand.

The head of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has hit out at Infantino about his comments and clearly wants to game to go ahead. Yet U.S. Soccer, CONCACAF, the Spanish Football Federation and FIFA would all have to give it the thumbs up.

“I will remind the President of,  that in the , 3 teams of Canada participate, and he T is the current champion, and also in Canada there is another professional league,” Tebas said.

I see where Tebas is coming from but come on, comparing teams from Spain to Canada  playing games in the USA is a huge stretch. It appears La Liga remains desperate for this idea to work but there’s certainly a lot of schmoozing that needs to be done in the coming months to make a Spanish top-flight game in Miami a reality.

Beckham’s Miami MLS team reveals name, logo

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Club Internacional de Futbol Miami.

Welcome to Major League Soccer.

David Beckham’s Miami MLS franchise revealed its team name and logo on Wednesday, and they’re both sublime.

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The team will be known more commonly as Inter Miami CF and per a statement released on their website, they believe the team name and logo fits perfectly with the international feel of South Florida.

“Our city and our fans draw their strength from the dreams of a global population that calls Miami home. It is only fitting that our name pays tribute to the inclusiveness that makes us who we are,” Managing Owner Jorge Mas said.

As for Beckham, his long-term project (Miami was originally awarded an expansion franchise in 2014) is taking shape as they plan for their arrival in MLS in 2020.

“Club Internacional de Fuutbol Miami is a name that celebrates the incredible energy of one of the most exciting cities in the world – one that is diverse, passionate and ambitious – a city that has welcomed me and so many others, so warmly,” Beckham said. “Our club will be a home for all – no matter where you are from or how you got here. This is just the beginning of our journey as we continue to build towards our first game in 2020.”

Recent expansion teams in MLS have gone with very similar sounding names: Atlanta United, Minnesota United, LA FC, Austin FC.

Miami has blown them all out of the water with their originality and a tip of the cap to their citizens. The logo may look a little quirky to some, but it screams Florida and certainly has enough color to make it stand out from the crowd.

All in all, it has taken Beckham and Co. a long time to release a team name and logo amid plenty of uncertainty along the way if there would ever actually be a team in Miami. It was certainly worth the wait.

Up next: getting the soccer-specific stadium deal sorted ahead of their entry to MLS in 2020. There is a key referendum in November regarding the plans to build a 25,000 capacity venue at Freedom Park. After several failed attempts to build Inter Miami a home across Miami, it looked like a site at Overtown would perfect, but now the Freedom Park site, close to Miami International Airport, has emerged as the frontrunner.

Girona-Barcelona could be headed for Miami

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Girona will be the first team to lose a home match as a result of La Liga’s plan to stage season matches in the United States, and will make traveling concessions for season ticket holders set to miss Barcelona at Estadi Montilivi.

It’ll be a Catalan Derby staged in Miami at the home of the NFL’s Dolphins, and the match is set for Jan. 27, 2019, according to Sport.

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There have been questions as to whether FIFA would approve the playing of meaningful domestic matches abroad, and players have threatened to strike over the plan.

Sport reports that Girona will fund up to 1500 round trip tickets to Miami for season ticket holders, with another 5000 free tickets available when Girona plays the away leg at Barcelona (Fans would have to pay a refundable deposit if flying to Miami).

Girona made waves when it knocked off Real Madrid at what could be considered the height of Catalan protests last year. It also beat Villarreal and drew Atletico Madrid twice, and has three players on loan from Man City.

Beckham’s MLS team hires sporting director away from Atlanta

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MIAMI (AP) David Beckham’s planned MLS team in Miami has hired an executive.

Paul McDonough will be the still-unnamed Miami club’s sporting director. Atlanta United announced that McDonough’s contract with them will be terminated on Saturday, allowing him to join the Miami group.

Atlanta made the announcement Thursday.

McDonough was Atlanta’s vice president of soccer operations, playing a major role in helping the team become the second expansion club in the last 20 years to make the MLS Cup playoffs in an inaugural season. He joined the Atlanta group in December 2015.

Beckham, a former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star, has been trying to bring a team to Miami for five years. His group has said it hopes to begin play in 2020, though it remains unclear where a stadium will be built.