Like Pele before him, David Beckham has spent much of his later career as an international “face” of soccer (football). For some time now, Beckham has also been working hard to bring Major League Soccer to Miami, a city where the sport is almost guaranteed a major fan following.
One might think bringing a major sports brand to a city as metropolitan and international as Miami would be relatively simple, especially for a person as famous in the sport as Beckham. Not so, says the superstar, who called the project “a hell of a journey.”
Now, though, that journey is over, and Beckham has his win. Miami will once again be home to an MLS team, to which Beckham says, “Hola.”
There are a few more hurdles to get over. The team currently doesn’t have a home, though it’s thought they will play in a planned 25,000-seat stadium that should be built with private funding. That’s nowhere near a done deal, and the team is scheduled to begin playing in the league as soon as 2020 … though they may have to wait a year for a real place to call home. Speaking to the media, Beckham promised fans he is on the case:
“Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep…”
That all sounds great. He just needs to go ahead and make it happen. But that’s exactly what Beckham has been doing his entire career. He came into pro soccer seeming to understand what it meant to carry the banner for his sport across international lines. And he did that exceptionally well during a career that included stops in some of the sport’s most storied franchises, including Real Madrid, AC Milan, and, of course, Manchester United.
Then there was Beckham in England’s colors battling on the international stage. This was a guy who, at 12 years old, was told to give up his dreams of ever turning pro. Beckham didn’t listen to “no” and he created a legacy that a generation of soccer fans grew up hoping to emulate.
Now Beckham hopes to bring that winning approach to the MLS. The league is growing in popularity but still languishes well behind the NFL and MLB in fan attention and finances here in the United States. Soccer might be popular, but there just hasn’t been that brand to connect with fans, who are, largely, exhausted by other sports.
But, if hockey can catch on in Florida, there’s little doubt that, given a chance and the right ownership team, soccer should be able to do well in Miami.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.