Evoking An Image of Wings In Flight, This Will Be Miami’s Theatre Of Dreams

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami releases stunning new preview of home stadium at Miami Freedom Park.

Miami, Fla. (Tuesday, April 9, 2019) – by Kenneth Russo

Miami has always been about the dream. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to Miami. He liked Miami because of its promise and opportunity:

“We really look at Miami as the original dream, and try to go back to that notion — the promise of if you’re good and you do right in your life and you work hard, we all end up in Miami.”

Anthony Bourdain, 2015.

Inter Miami CF’s dream was shared in a little more detail today:

The club today released new renderings of its intended permanent home at Miami Freedom Park. Beginning with an image of a great white heron in its native South Florida habitat, the video transforms as the bird takes flight, transforming itself into a sweeping, majestic, laser-lighted canopy of the stadium. One glance makes it clear that this stadium will check all the boxes: the latest (presumably 5G) technology, beautiful sight lines, a massive wall of a supporters’ section, luxury suites, clubs and entertainment options before and after a match.

Prior to the vote in November, in which a majority of Miami city voters approved allowing the city to negotiate a lease of the land needed for building both the stadium and adjacent Miami Freedom Park, the words spoken were “this won’t just be a soccer stadium.” And they were right. This is a transformation, a vision, and the best is yet to come.

They call it “the beautiful game,” and in Miami the game won’t be the only thing they call beautiful. It takes a lot to get this town’s attention, and in Miami, sizzle and sexy are what sells. The new permanent home stadium for Inter Miami CF promises to deliver these attributes to an international fan base that is knowledgeable and passionate for fútbol.

A pure masterpiece, this stadium is the pièce de résistance befitting of MLS’ first global club.

Images courtesy of Inter Miami CF

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Could This Be A Third Option For Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami?

Miami, FL (Wednesday February 20, 2019) – Kenneth Russo –

Another potential site for the temporary home of Inter Miami CF has emerged, according to information discovered via social media feeds. On February 12, 2019, officials from the MLS club, Dennis Sprenkle, the Vice-President of HR and Administration, and Jurgen Mainka, Director of Commercial, met with the President of Saint Thomas University, David A. Armstrong, J.D. at the team’s Miami offices.

Inter Miami CF is in need of securing a home for its inaugural season beginning in March 2020, and in all likelihood for the 2021 season as well. The Club had been in talks with MLB’s Miami Marlins to play at Marlins Park, but the two sides could not reach an accord. They also reportedly have talked to RSE Ventures about leasing Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, but again without an agreement being struck.

The third choice for a temporary home has usually focused on Riccardo Silva Stadium at Florida International University. Located in the western part of Miami-Dade County, that site also has its complications, the primary obstacle being that Inter Miami CF would be the third tenant, and would be required to adjust its home dates to fit in with FIU Football and the Miami Football Club, a non division team owned in part by Silva which played in the now defunct NASL. Also, the location is less-than-ideal, as it is far from the urban core of Miami.

At the meeting with St. Thomas on February 12, the two sides talked about potential partnerships with the University and with the St. Thomas University Sports Administration Program.

Founded in 1961 as Biscayne College by the order of Augustinian Friars, the private Catholic institution achieved university status in 1984, operates one of only two accredited Catholic law schools south of Washington, D.C., and offers multiple degrees at the bachelor and master level. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,280, and its current campus size is 140 acres, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report survey of colleges and universities. The university listed 28 acres of land for sale in August 2018. The sale of the land, located along the Palmetto Expressway, would be used to strengthen its endowment and finance strategic projects, according to President David A. Armstrong.

https://www.latimes.com/fl-bz-st-thomas-university-selling-28-acres-20180823-story.html

St. Thomas University has recently added men’s American Football to its university sports program, with games beginning in Fall 2019, but has yet to announce where it will play those home games. Presently, there is no football stadium on the campus. It is also entirely possible that St. Thomas is interested in using the eventual Miami Freedom Park Stadium. No one has ever mentioned Inter Miami CF sharing its home with other teams, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented either. Within MLS, Toronto FC has allowed the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to use BMO Field; Los Angeles Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson California is the temporary home of the relocated NFL Chargers; FC Dallas’ home is used for American Football.

Geographically, St. Thomas’ location in northern Miami-Dade County make it an ideal site for Inter Miami CF, as the location is easily accessible by car from both Miami and Broward County. The university also has experience in hosting a soccer club, having been the home grounds of the aforementioned Miami FC while the club dropped down to play in the NPSL. St. Thomas controls a large amount of land and has the room necessary to construct a football stadium for its newly launched university team.

If there is anything to the possibility of constructing a temporary home at St. Thomas, plans would have to occur quickly. The time factor gives rise to another potential: the use of a modular stadium. This has been a popular solution for USL teams. For example, Phoenix Rising FC have constructed a modular stadium for its home games, while building the club’s fanbase and developing plans for a permanent stadium as part of its very strong expansion bid to Major League Soccer. Phoenix’ modular stadium has 6,000 seats, and building one for Inter Miami CF would require at least 15,000 to be a viable option and to meet MLS standards.

Read more about InProduction modular stadiums:

MLS 2019 Primary Transfer Window – Feb 13 – May 7

Miami, FL (Friday, February 15, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

On Wednesday of this week, the 2019 MLS Primary Transfer Window, allowing clubs to now officially register their offseason additions. The 2019 window is open from February 13 until May 7 for transfers in to MLS Clubs.

Persuant to FIFA regulations, an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is a requirement when completing an international transfer of a player. MLS teams are able to request International Transfer Certificates (ITC) from players’ former clubs to complete signings, loans and transfer deals.

With respect to outbound transfers, clubs may transfer or loan their players to non-MLS clubs at any time, subject to the transfer window of the recipient club’s national federation and subject to the consent of the player.

Major League Soccer maintains an official transactions page and transfer tracker; links are here:

official transactions page

transfer tracker

The Secondary Transfer Window will open on July 7 before closing on Aug. 7.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

UEFA Prepares To Launch OTT streaming platform

UEFA the first of soccer’s six continental governing bodies to operate an OTT service.

Miami, FL (Monday, February 12, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

European soccer’s governing body will launch its own over-the-top (“OTT”) streaming platform in the next six months. Once the platform is launched, it will make UEFA the first of soccer’s six continental governing bodies to operate an OTT service.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin revealed this while speaking with the media after his re-election for a new four-year term as UEFA’s top executive. Čeferin confirmed that the service will initially show women’s and youth soccer matches, as well archive content and behind-the-scenes footage from matches.

However, the prospect of having the UEFA Champions League matches on the platform is unlikely until 2021 at the earliest, given the governing body’s existing contracts with broadcasters around the world.

“By putting respect, hope and solidarity at the heart of our strategy, we will make football more accessible for fans, all fans across the planet,” said Čeferin, speaking at UEFA’s annual congress in Rome. “This is one of the main challenges for the coming years. “This is why I am pleased to announce that UEFA will be launching its OTT platform in the next six months. We are fully aware that a revolution is under way and are in the process of agreeing historic partnerships with the world’s leading companies in this field.”

Theodore Theodoridis, UEFA’s secretary general, added that the service should be available by June, indicating that the governing body will look for ways to include its flagship competitions on the platform when its existing rights deals expire.

“Now, we don’t know what the future will tell,” said Theodoridis. “But, we have to be ready for the future and the creation of this platform will solidify UEFA in this case; and as of 2021, where our current deal, our current rights expire, together with the clubs, we will see the possibility, in certain territories, of having some premium live matches.

“Also, as of 2022, with the national associations, [it will be] the same because we have a difference of one year in the cycle of TV rights between club football and national association football. But together, we will decide where and if we are to include some premium live content.”

The news of UEFA’s initiative to launch an OTT platform first emerged in September, when the organisation’s marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein told Spanish outlet Palco23 that the governing body wanted to give more airtime to categories which do not benefit from as much exposure as men’s soccer.

In the United States and Canada, popular leagues such as the NBA, the NFL and NHL all have streaming subscription services that show live games. At the same time, television continues to pay higher amounts to acquire rights to show games. With the continued development of connected devices and their growing popularity versus traditional means of viewing, can we simply envision UEFA engaging in direct commercialisation to football fans through exclusive subscriptions, bypassing the intermediaries?


L’UEFA se prépare à lancer sa plateforme de streaming OTT

Miami, FL (lundi, le 12 février 2019) par Kenneth Russo –

UEFA lancera sa propre plate-forme de streaming over-the-top (OTT) au cours des six prochains mois.

Le Président de l’UEFA, Aleksander Čeferin, a confirmé que le service diffusera dans un premier temps les matchs de football pour les femmes et les jeunes, ainsi que le contenu des archives et les images des coulisses des matchs.

Après sa réélection à la tête de l’UEFA la semaine dernière, Aleksander Čeferin a fait quelques annonces stratégiques sur les prochaines années de son mandat.

L’un des principaux objectifs du président de l’UEFA est de rendre le football plus accessible à travers le monde, notamment grâce au numérique.

Toutefois, il est peu probable que l’UEFA Champions League soit disponible sur la plate-forme avant 2021 au plus tôt compte tenu des contrats en vigueur entre l’instance dirigeante et les radiodiffuseurs du monde entier. «En plaçant le respect, l’espoir et la solidarité au cœur de notre stratégie, nous rendrons le football plus accessible aux fans, qu’ils soient fans de la planète», a déclaré Čeferin, lors du congrès annuel de l’UEFA à Rome. «C’est l’un des principaux défis des prochaines années.»

« Je suis heureux de vous annoncer que l’UEFA lancera, dans les six prochains mois, sa plateforme OTT » a déclaré Ceferin depuis Rome. « Une révolution est en marche. Nous en avons pleinement conscience et nouons des partenariats historiques avec les groupes mondiaux leaders du domaine. […] Comme vous le savez, nous avons déjà commencé à aller dans cette direction grâce à un accord de sponsoring avec le groupe Alibaba. Ce partenariat est plus qu’un simple accord de sponsorship. C’est un accord qui ouvre sur de nouveaux horizons, comme la création d’un centre d’excellence sur les nouvelles technologies dans le football ou des projets communs de commerce électronique. » 

Reste à savoir si, à terme, l’offre digitale de l’UEFA proposera les compétitions majeures comme la Champions League, l’Euro ou encore la Ligue des Nations. Surtout, une offre de contenus premium peut-elle être compatible avec la vente de droits TV aux chaînesbusiness qui représente la majorité des revenus de l’UEFA ?

Aux USA, les principales ligues comme la NBA, la NFL ou encore la NHL proposent des abonnements permettant de suivre l’intégralité des rencontres depuis une application. En parallèle, les télévision continuent de payer des montants toujours plus importants pour acquérir quelques matchs. Avec le développement des appareils connectés, peut-on tout simplement envisager que l’UEFA commercialise directement auprès des fans de football des abonnements en exclusivité en se passant d’intermédiaires?

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Marlins decline to share home with Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami

“We don’t feel at this time that Marlins Park is the ideal fit for us.” Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner

Miami, FL (Thursday, February 7, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami’s proposal to use Marlins Park as a temporary home will not be in the best interests of the Miami Marlins or Inter Miami CF.

Marlins Director of Operations Chip Bowers indicates that the baseball team does not feel their facility works for Inter Miami because the baseball season overlaps with that of Major League Soccer, which plays a March through October calendar. “We’ve had some conversations with MLS Miami and Jorge Mas and his team,” he said. “Very positive. Been very diligent. Both sides, to each party’s credit, has been really focused on making sure this is the right operational fit. I think the reality is, we’ve both realized, it probably isn’t.”

Bowers said the concurrent MLS and MLB seasons was a major concern.

“I think there’s some challenges having a 17-, 18-game soccer schedule simultaneous to a baseball schedule that falls on the exact same calendar,” he said. “The field would really take a beating. There’s a lot of operational issues that go along with it that would make it really difficult for us to realize.”

Jorge Mas, Managing Owner of Inter Miami CF said: “Frankly, we have a preferred site. We’re going to be making an announcement on that late February, early March, which I think will be great for our fans, for our team and our sponsors. We don’t feel at this time that Marlins Park is the ideal fit for us.” There is still a possibility Inter Miami CF will play a few games at Hard Rock Stadium during the first season in 2020.

Using Hard Rock Stadium however, as an exclusive temporary home is also looking doubtful. Though officials from RSE Ventures declined comment, it appears they also do not feel it is feasible to provide a temporary home to Inter Miami because of spring conflicts with the Miami Open Tennis Tournament that is now housed at the stadium, and fall conflicts with the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes.

Using a baseball stadium to play soccer is never the best option for the simple reason that the sightlines are terrible. The only baseball stadium in the United States that is used for MLS is Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, which has been the home of New York City FC since the club’s inception while NYCFC seeks a permanent stadium site. The difference in New York City is that the Yankees are investors in the soccer team, giving them incentive to make the shared arrangement work. Nevertheless, the conversion from baseball to soccer pitch and back is an expensive, three-day process.

“There’s only one other facility that has done it, and that’s Yankee Stadium with New York FC. The difference there is there’s an equity piece with the Yankees and that particular team,” Bowers said. “There’s a million-dollar-a-game commitment by the team to the Yankees to overcome some of those operational challenges, none of which we think is really in the cards here given the conversations we’ve had with MLS Miami.”

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Inter Miami CF Enters Into Agreement with KIN

KIN Partners will be the exclusive sponsorship sales representation agency.

Miami, FL (Tuesday, February 5, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami (“Inter Miami CF”) continues to make impressive steps in its development, now with slightly more than one year before it kicks off play in North America’s Major League Soccer.

The club announced on February 1, 2019, that it has entered into a contract with the London-based firm, which is headed up by industry veterans Simon Oliveira and Matthew Kay, KIN recently expanded into Miami and Oliveira, the Managing Director of KIN, has previously worked on Beckham’s other business projects. Among KIN’s roster of international clients is Neymar, Jr.

KIN’s role will be to identify and develop sponsorship opportunities for the expansion club.

“Miami is recognised as a global city with a mix of wonderful cultures and we cannot wait to start working with both the vastly impressive ownership group and one of the most exciting properties in world sports today,” said Matthew Kay.

The announcement comes within days after Inter Miami put forward plans to build a training facility, including a multi-purpose stadium, on the site of the Lockhart Stadium, previously used by the now defunct North American Soccer League’s (NASL) Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Given the transformational aspect of Miami Freedom Park, partnering with an international agency appears to be a smart move. Interest in Inter Miami CF has been high, and the home of the team, in addition to a 25,000 seat stadium, a public park and public soccer fields, will feature hotel, entertainment and retail space as well as a technology hub. It is a US$1 billion complex that will create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city, county, state and school board.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Original Supporters’ Group Southern Legion / La Legion Del Sur, issues statement amid reports of a rebrand.

Miami, FL (Saturday, February 2, 2019)

Third supporters’ group emerges in the most bizarre fashion.

In a pure sign of increasing enthusiasm and interest in the run up to Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami’s (Inter Miami CF) inaugural season in 2020, the community of supporters’ groups has now grown to three.

This after several members of the original supporters’ group Southern Legion / La Legion del Sur, split away from the established organisation to form a new one. It appears that this new splinter group is also furthering confusion amongst Miami soccer fans by alleging that they in fact are the Southern Legion, rather than calling themselves a newly formed group. A press release to this effect was even issued on the new group’s website. The group, calling themselves the Siege, reportedly has assumed control over the real Southern Legion’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, renaming those accounts to reflect the branding of the new group.

The logo of Southern Legion / Legion del Sur

A look at the Southern Legion twitter account suggests that the breakaway group was the result of collusion between at least two Legion members.

https://twitter.com/southern_legion/status/1091889035046469632?s=21

On Friday, the Board of Directors of the real Southern Legion / Legion del Sur, took to Twitter to defend the group’s brand and clear up the confusion:

What we do know is that Southern Legion / Legion del Sur traces its origins to 2008, around the time the mighty FC Barcelona was looking to enter into a partnership to bring a Barça branded club to MLS in Miami.

Ever since then, the Legion, as they are called for short, has been a driving force to increase awareness and support for soccer in Miami, and an MLS club in Vice City, in particular.

They have been seen at events including soccer matches, lower division team games, political rallies and countless city and county hearings. Their scarves and shirts have traveled the globe.

https://twitter.com/southern_legion/status/562665570639028225?s=21

So instrumental was the Legion to the efforts of David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, and new investors Jorge and Jose Mas to finally land Inter Miami, that they were given preferred seating at the official announcement of the team back in January 29, 2018 and were singled out by Marcelo Claure in his speech that day at the Knight Concert Hall.

Marcelo Claure at the official unveiling of Fútbol Miami MLS on January 29. 2018.

While details are scarce, it seems readily apparent that some inner circle members of Southern Legion felt that a name change and brand was a way to stake a claim to being the “official” supporters group for Inter Miami CF. As the months went by after the official birth of the team, a second supporters’ group, Vice City 1896, emerged. With two strong groups in place, any notion that there would be only one supporters’ group, let alone an “official” one, was neither realistic nor practical. In such an environment, there should be intrinsic value in having an established brand.

What can be confirmed at present is that Inter Miami CF now has three supporters’ groups. And Southern Legion / Legion del Sur is definitely one of them:

https://twitter.com/southern_legion/status/1092150419059548160?s=21

Of course, having multiple supporters’ groups is anything but a bad sign. Within Major League Soccer, most, if not all of the clubs, have more than one such group. It is also common place in Europe and South America. In a place as diverse as Miami, multiple groups only seems natural. The next step will be to harness this passion into creating an unparalleled game day atmosphere.

Southern Legion marches on January 29, 2018.