David Beckham spent five seasons in Major League Soccer, playing for the LA Galaxy where he won two MLS Cup trophies. The former England international now intends to return to U.S. soccer once again as part of an ownership group that will bring top-tier soccer back to Miami, Florida.
The Miami Fusion were the city's last MLS team, operating from 1997 to 2001, winning the MLS Supporters' Shield in their final season. However, since then, there has been no MLS team in the area, with the closest franchise operating in Orlando.
The newest MLS franchise, now known as Inter Miami, was confirmed as the league's 25th team at a press conference on January 29, 2018.
Ahead of the team's debut in MLS, Goal brings you everything you need to know about Inter Miami, including where they will play and which players will play for them.
- Who owns the Inter Miami CF team?
- What is the name of Beckham's MLS team?
- When will Inter Miami FC play in MLS?
- Where is Inter Miami FC's stadium?
- Who plays for Inter Miami FC?
- Can you try out for Inter Miami FC?
- What is an expansion team?
Beckham is just one owner of Inter Miami, and is part of an ownership group which was initially called Miami Beckham United, but now operates under the name Miami Freedom Park LLC .
The group also includes Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, MasTec's Jorge and Jose Mas and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.
Beckham's group previously included Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly, former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Tim Leiweke and American Idol producer Simon Fuller, whose involvement ended in May 2019 when Beckham and his wife Victoria bought him out of their business ventures.
When Beckham moved to the LA Galaxy in 2007, he received a purchase option from MLS which would allow him to establish a future franchise for $25 million rather than the usual $150m cost.
In 2014, he decided to exercise this option, and has been granted permission by Miami-Dade County to build a new stadium in downtown Miami.
It was announced on September 5, 2018 that the team will be called Inter Miami CF, which is short for Club Internacional de Futbol Miami.
Previously, the names Miami Vice and Miami Current were used when referring to the franchise in presentations.
It had also been believed that Beckham might pay tribute to his playing career with Manchester United and call the team Miami United, but there was already a semi-professional team in the city with the same name.
U.S. website BigSoccer ran a poll in 2016 where fans could vote on the team's name, with 26 percent choosing International Miami or Inter Miami ahead of other options like Athletic Miami, Athletic Club Miami and AC Miami.
It is a name that reflects the multicultural diversity in the city.
The Miami team is just one of five new expansion teams as Major League Soccer looks to expand to at least 24 teams by 2020.
Inter Miami's first MLS match was played on March 1, 2020, away to Los Angeles FC, which ended in a 1–0 loss.
Inter Miami FC are currently without their own permanent stadium, though a date has been set for the opening of their new home in 2022.
The current proposal for an Inter Miami FC stadium is a 25,000-seat venue forming part of Freedom Park , a complex near Miami International Airport.
Approval for construction of the ground was granted through a public vote held in November 2018.
Plans include for the stadium to be built on 131-acre public land, including more than 1,000,000 square feet of combined office, retail and commercial space.
There are also plans to expand to the hotel industry, with 750 hotel rooms, 23 acres reserved for public soccer fields and the remaining 58 acres being turned into a public park.
Other locations in Miami were also being scouted, such as areas like Dodge Island at PortMiami, the Downtown Miami waterfront at Museum Park, and private sites in Miami's Overtown.
While Miami Freedom Park is being built, Inter Miami will use Lockhart Stadium - previously used by Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami Fusion - as their temporary base.
Beckham himself is now 42, so, unfortunately, he is probably too old to play for his own team. It is also unlikely that he will take up a managerial or coaching role with the team, preferring to stay behind the scenes with the other owners.
The club announced their first arrivals in Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranaza in August 2019, with their third signing in Venezuelan youth international Christian Makoun on August 6.
"We are happy to add a young player with solid experience both in Europe and South America to Inter Miami’s roster,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said in a statement.
“Christian is a grounded player of good character and maturity. He has shown us that he strives to represent himself and his home country at the highest level, and this is the mindset we want to build at Inter Miami.”
Canadian midfielder David Norman joined the club in early September from Vancouver Whitecaps.
Miami will also be allowed sign three designated players, whose salaries are not counted towards the MLS salary cap. When LA Galaxy signed him, Beckham was a designated player. They will also be eligible to take part in the MLS SuperDraft ahead of their first season, which sees expansion teams given the first overall pick.
Phil Neville was announced as head coach of the side in January 2021, leaving his duties as manager of England's women's national team to be reunited with former team-mate Beckham in Florida.
The two played together at Manchester United and England, keeping a close relationship over the years.
"I am incredibly delighted for this opportunity to coach Inter Miami and to work with Chris and the entire ownership group," Neville said of the appointment.
"This is a very young club with a lot of promise and upside, and I am committed to challenging myself, my players and everyone around me to grow and build a competitive soccer culture we can all be proud of.
"This fantastic soccer-loving market deserves consistent performances and a winning mentality, and I look forward to getting to work."
A number of global stars have been rumoured to be on Beckham's radar and the former Real Madrid player has hinted that he could bring some big names to the club.
"I’ve been doing a lot of vetting," Beckham told reporters in June 2019.
“We all know how great Miami is as a place to live with your family, but we don’t want players just coming here at the end of their career thinking, 'Oh, let’s go have a couple of years in Miami and I’ll play a little bit of soccer.’
"That’s not what we want. We want players who are hungry, who have played at the top level but still want to win.
"I’m lucky I’ve played in many different teams, many different countries with many different players, and they’re actually calling me daily. It’s a good problem to have.”
World Cup-winning forward Antoine Griezmann has expressed willingness to be a part of Beckham's project, while Wayne Rooney and James Rodriguez have also been linked.
Gonzalo Higuain is the club's first high-profile signing after he terminated his contract at Juventus one year early. His older brother, Federico, also followed him shortly after in signing for the club.
Recruitment of talent is a key part of any sports team and Inter Miami is no different. As well as tryouts, club scouts, coaches and officials will be on the hunt for new players for all age levels up to the senior team.
Inter Miami has already assembled a Development Academy Roster, which features players for the age groups of Under-12 to Under-19.
Players from local youth soccer club Lauderhill Lions were invited to join the academy in May 2019.
“It was really important for us when we got into this process to really focus on the youth players in South Florida,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said.
“We’ve been going out and scouting since last August and have visited many locations.
"We knew there would be some very good players out there that weren’t playing on clubs due to the restriction on finances and we looked at different groups in South Florida."
Miami will become Major League Soccer's 25th team, with the league having expanded multiple times since its foundation in 1996. When it began, MLS had just 10 teams, but had expanded to 12 teams by 1998. Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion both left the league in 2002 due to financial reasons, returning MLS to 10 teams.
Following the success of the United States at the 2002 World Cup, MLS began to grow again, with many more teams joining as it expanded multiple times. New teams joined every year between 2007 and 2011, and by 2016, the league comprised of 20 teams.
By 2020, the additions of Atlanta United, Minnesota United, Los Angeles FC and a new franchise in Nashville will see MLS have 24 teams competing for the title. In December 2017, the Nashville expansion team was announced as part of the next phase, with the aim of growing the league to 28 teams. The 24th team will play at the Nashville Fairgrounds in Tennesse, where there are plans to build a new 27,500-seat stadiu.
Miami will be the 25th team and will play their debut season in MLS in 2020. Bids have come from three other cities to complete the remaining teams for the 28-team expansion: Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento. There has also been interest from Indianapolis, Charlotte, Raleigh and Phoenix.