Beckham launches plan to build soccer franchise in Miami

Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:25pm EST
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By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - Former England soccer captain David Beckham announced on Wednesday that he has exercised his option to become the owner of a Major League Soccer team in Miami, promising to make it "the people's club."

The international soccer star said he looked forward to building a world class team, as yet unnamed, during a Miami press conference alongside MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the mayor of Miami-Dade county.

"I have worked for some of the biggest clubs in the world, and some of the greatest players in the world, and this is a dream," said the heavily tattooed Beckham, dressed in a dark suit and tie to address a large media audience at a gleaming new bayfront art museum in the south Florida city.

"This is an exciting time ... for myself, exciting time for my family and friends and partners, and something we are really looking forward to bringing to Miami," Beckham added, to chants of "We're going to MLS," from a group of fans calling themselves the "Southern Legion."

Beckham will be the managing partner of the team, and signed a shareholder agreement on Tuesday evening with his two partners, the British TV producer and creator of American Idol Simon Fuller, and Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, founder of Miami-based Brightstar Corp, the world's largest wireless distributor and the provider of global services to Apple.

"We have a deal. We are three partners, David, myself and Simon, as of last night," Claure told Reuters.

Garber called the decision a "historic day ... for soccer in America," noting that Beckham was the first former player anywhere in the world to become the owner of a top league soccer team in modern times.

He went on to praise Beckham for his work ethic and painstaking due diligence on his league contract, as well as his charity work as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and for the group Malaria No More.   Continued...

David Beckham laughs as he discusses matters related to the ownership position he has with a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team that could play in Miami, at a news conference in Miami, Florida February, 5, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity