MIAMI, Fla. (January 20, 2020) —
Today, the Inter Miami digital team was busy releasing many photos of the squad assembled for the first day of preseason training at Barry University in Miami. While fans are focused on the start of preseason camp, The Athletic (UK edition) is reporting that Inter Miami and David Beckham are in talks to secure a major sponsorship for the Rosanegro.
The Athletic can exclusively reveal Beckham is in high-level talks with Qatar about an endorsement deal that would cover Inter Miami and him personally.
Inter Miami is currently the only club of the 26 in MLS without a shirt sponsor for the 2020 campaign. However sources expect that situation to change very soon.
According to the story by David Ornstein (The Athletic UK by David Ornstein), no deal has been signed but discussions are in an “advanced stage” for a top-tier commercial agreement, likely a kit sponsorship, advertising and stadium naming rights for the team’s future stadium at Miami Freedom Park.
The specific Qatar-based sponsor has not been named, but it’s not a great surprise that the eventual shirt sponsor might be a company from Qatar. David Beckham finished his playing career with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, owned by Qatar Sports Investment (“QSI”), whose president is Nasser Al-Khelaifi. The two men are also personal friends. In addition to being the PSG president, the billionaire Al-Khelaifi, commonly referred to as Nak, is a also the chairman of beIN Media Group (parent company of beIN Sports), chairman of Qatar Sports Investments and the Qatar Tennis Federation, as well as the vice president of the Asian Tennis Federation for West Asia. He once played professional tennis and featured on Qatar’s Davis Cup team.
Beckham attended the Club World Cup in December and was photographed with the PSG President. Beckham also posted images of the pair together at that tournament. Beckham also toured some stadiums that are built for the upcoming World Cup and while discussing the World Cup commented on the parallels he faced in bringing a club to Miami. The interview can be found on Russo Soccer.
Qatar was at one time talking with Miami Beckham United to be an investor in the venture to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Miami. This was around 2016, at a time prior to the Mas brothers’ involvement in the ownership group, and a time of little progress in the effort. A deal was not reached at that time although details of the talks never became known. It’s likely that the involvement of Qatar was not favoured by some of the MLS owners. [The league operates as a single-entity and thus the franchise owners are also collectively business partners in MLS.] More recently, during Beckham’s visit to Doha in December, Le Parisien reported that Al-Kehlaifi once again made an offer to be an investor in the club, which was rejected.
Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), dont NAK est le patron, a longtemps réfléchi à l’opportunité de s’associer au projet du Spice Boy qui est en train de monter son équipe, l’Inter Miami, qui disputera son premier match en mars 2020.Le Parisien, Dec. 18, 2019
However, the news of Qatar being involved in a sponsorship shifts the conversation somewhat. Being involved as a sponsor does not come with the complications of being a direct owner/investor and taking an ownership interest in MLS. For this reason, it should not be as problematic. Moreover, with Qatar in the spotlight as the host of the World Cup in 2022, the country and its businesses are better-positioned to become sponsors, and the Middle East nation’s expanding portfolio of sports investments is evidence of that.
As mentioned above, Beckham has spoken publicly in support of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup finals and embarked upon multiple visits to the country.
“Miami is proof, and Qatar is proof, that anything is possible.”David Beckham
It remains to be seen how correct this story is. But, we should expect Inter Miami to be able to attract a very lucrative kit sponsorship and stadium naming-rights deal (especially for Miami Freedom Park). The fact that no sponsor has thus far been announced is very likely due to the high price being put on such a sponsorship, which likely rules out all but the biggest names.
It is uncertain whether an involvement of this nature could prove controversial, given the severe criticism Qatar has faced over migrant worker abuses, its stance on homosexuality and other human rights issues. The recently held Club World Cup in Qatar was in some ways a test of the country’s openness to receiving scores of foreign visitors with vastly different cultural perspectives from Qatar. Asked about the country’s fan-friendliness, Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022, insisted there would be no restrictions. “Everyone is welcome,” he said. “We do not mix sport and politics.”