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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Abel Iraola
While Miamians continue to be kept in the dark about David Beckham’s upcoming Major League Soccer club, a local team in the second-tier is hitting the ground running.
The Miami Football Club Miami FC was announced in May, already making strides to begin playing next April. The ownership group, led by legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini and sports media rights mogul Riccardo Silva, have made major moves to ensure success for the new club.
Last week, Miami FC announced the hiring of Alessandro Nesta as the club’s first head coach. Nesta, a renowned Italian defender like Maldini, made his name as a key player for Serie A giants Lazio and Milan before heading to Montreal for MLS. They also hired Cesar Velasco to manage the team. Velasco comes with extensive experience in sports management, serving as director of communications, marketing and community relations for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Toronto FC and most recently, FC Dallas.
On Wednesday afternoon, Velasco held a Q&A on the club’s Facebook page to address supporters directly for the first time.
Although no major announcements came from the event, the general manager hinted that the new organization is aiming to make an impact in the often sports-averse Miami scene. The club hopes to avoid some of the pitfalls of running a second-tier club in a country not yet used to following teams below the major leagues.
Issues that have troubled other teams, including broadcast rights, stadium deals and player quality and development, were addressed during the hour-long question session.
Velasco said that that the club is currently in talks with broadcasters. The “goal is to have all Miami FC matches available for our fans,” Velasco said. It is still unknown where the club will play, but they are in negotiations and expect to make an announcement in four to six weeks. FIU Stadium has been rumored to be the preferred site, and it was confirmed on Wednesday that it is among the locations currently under consideration.
Looking ahead to on-the-pitch decisions, Velasco deferred to Nesta when questioned about the expected style of play, paraphrasing the coach’s recent response to a similar question, which indicated that he prefers an attacking style, however: “As an ex defender he will make sure he will have a strong defense,” Velasco said.
The club is looking at players both at home and abroad, and plans to make its first announcements within the next few weeks. They will also hold tryouts for local footballers in November.
Maldini, Silva and Velasco are intent on not only creating a successful club, but promoting the sport of soccer in South Florida.
Velasco said that a player development system is “a key objective.” However, he did not indicate whether that means they would follow an academy model.
Asked about Beckham’s MLS side, Velasco reiterated Miami FC’s support for Maldini’s former teammate.
“We support the project of the Beckham United Group to bring a team to Miami,” Velasco said. “This is great for soccer and all fans in South Florida.”
The front office remain confident that the club will succeed, drawing fans in Miami and across South Florida by building a championship-winning team. They plan to go full-strength into the NASL season as well as the U.S. Open Cup, the country’s domestic cup competition that spans all levels of American soccer.
“We believe in Miami and we believe in Miami soccer fans. We are building a club for Miami fans to call their own and be an active part of, hence ‘one club one voice’. We are working hard to build a championship caliber team for our city.”
The NASL’s spring season begins in April 2016.
Cover Photo Credit: miamifc.comPost Views: 905
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ANOTHER STORY: Jack’s Miami is the Italian Place Miami Sorely NeededPost Views: 668
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This story was originally published on risemiaminews.com on June 11, 2015.
By Santiago Archieri
Growing up in Miami, there was one clear-cut favorite of who I would root for.
When my best friends and I would gear up in our orange and green outfits, we screamed our hearts out in Sun Life stadium. The “U” was what it was always all about.
As the college years went on, I saw two of my best friend’s transition to Duke and Gator fans, while some of us went to Florida International University. Although the University of Miami was my dream school for as long as I can remember, I had to become a Golden Panther.
I was there at every tailgate, stayed till 1 AM at a football game, hell, I even became an FIU cheerleader.
But up until a few weeks back I was conflicted.
It was one of the biggest college baseball games in Miami in recent memory, as FIU traveled 9 miles to Coral Gables to play the Hurricanes. For me, was it going to be UM or FIU gear that I donned at Mark Light?
Turned out to be FIU.
But not everyone has a smooth transition to acquaint themselves with “Panther Pride”. The University of Miami is the big brother school of FIU, and they never are humble about it.
This is completely understandable. I know the legacy “The U” holds, I know their 6 football national championships (and yes I include 2002), I know the bad boy Hurricane days.
I know it all, but going to FIU makes me realize how much pride I have for my own school.
As FIU is celebrating its 50th year as a university, it is well on the rise. FIU is one of the biggest schools in the nation when it comes to students enrollment, has some top notch undergrad programs and a fast growing law school.
And like some other sports in South Florida, fans start to fill the stadium when FIU starts winning.
The glory days of T.Y. Hilton displayed that fact, as fans started to stand on the top deck of the small stadium to cheer on the then conference winning football team. T.Y. led us to a new conference, led us to constructing a bigger stadium, and potentially saved FIU football.
This year, Panther fans saw our swimming and diving team win the conference, they saw the baseball team win the conference title as an 8th seed, they tuned into ESPN to watch FIU own the number one play on SportsCenter when Dennis Mavin hit a ridiculous half court, double pump buzzer beater in the conference tournament for basketball in Birmingham.
All these small things start to add up for FIU fans. The UM-FIU baseball matchup was a perfect example. As I walked in, it was amazing to see so much navy blue and gold.
In a sea of Hurricanes, I could see fellow Panthers, and even though it was a loss, I am sure every FIU fan there was beyond excited to root for their team.
Bring up the empty stadiums, the tough sports history, and the fact that FIU might not have an amazing reputation. But this is all going to change in the future, and it starts with people being proud of their school.
The biggest question I received all my senior year in high school was “Why FIU?”
And now, I know it to be the best decision I ever made. I see those true FIU fans, and know that they are starting to create a trend that can’t be stopped.
What do you think? Should FIU grads stop cheering for UM and better support their school? Let us know in the comments below.Post Views: 734
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