The Making of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami – A New Global Brand

Last Update: May 29, 2019

Creating A New Global Brand


“I’ve always emphasized we’re going to win. In South Florida you have to win. We will be a winning team from day one.”

Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner

Building a global brand requires a clearly focussed plan, understanding the market one is competing in, bringing together the right personnel, and a lot of work.

Generally speaking, there are agreed upon steps and considerations when creating a global brand. Here is one such list from a popular business journal:

1. Find A Differentiating Vision.

2. Don’t Get Lost In Translation.

3. Make Sure All Strategic Elements Are Fully Aligned.

4. Maintain A Consistent Identity.

5. Build A Team Of Believers.

The steps Inter Miami CF has taken since its beginning contain elements of all these generally- accepted principles.

Brands do not become globally recognised overnight. In the case of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami though, worldwide recognition seemed to happen just that quickly. That should come as no surprise given that David Beckham is involved. But having a global icon in the ownership group and as the face of the club will only get the club so far in the increasingly competitive world football landscape. To build a global brand, the club will need to first create its own identity.

Managing Owner Jorge Mas says the goal is to have a first-class team with facilities to match, to ensure Inter Miami CF becomes a global brand. Developments on both the football side and business side of Inter Miami CF will make this vision a reality.

The mission of these pages is to relay the steps Inter Miami CF take on its paths to global recognition. As such, items herein will periodically be updated as events warrant.

Introduction

It started with a dream of Marcelo Claure to bring a Major League Soccer club to Miami in the years following the contraction of the Miami Fusion by MLS, in a period often referred to as “MLS 1.0.” Claure’s efforts to bring MLS to Miami eventually lead to discussions with FC Barcelona about partnering with them and bringing s Barça owned team to Miami. While those plans fell through, Claure continued his efforts to bring Miami into the fold.

Separately, David Beckham entered the picture. Beckham’s impact on MLS was far greater than just being a big name player on one of the league’s most successful teams. When he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid, he had a provision in his contract with MLS that he could choose to exercise if he wished to invest in a future expansion team.

Claure eventually met someone who was able to arrange a meeting with David Beckham. Soon thereafter, the two decided that they would work together and Beckham focused on Miami as the city where he would launch a new team. The initial announcement by Beckham and Claure was made at the Perez Art Museum on February 5, 2014. Progress was slow to nonexistent in the years that followed, and many doubted that “Miami Beckham United” (the investors’ corporate name) would ever actually happen.

The breakthrough came the addition of brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, whose belief in and passion for Miami matched the perseverance and determination of Claure and Beckham. It was exactly the missing ingredient the team needed to move from concept to reality. After years of setbacks and frustrations, “Fútbol Miami” was officially confirmed on January 29, 2018.

Step 1: Choose A Name That Will Resonate

The building process took a major leap forward on September 5, 2018, when the club’s official name was revealed: Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, (Inter Miami CF), together with its unique badge and official colours.

Step 2: Division of Club Operations

The club’s operations are divided into two sides: Fútbol (Soccer), which includes obviously the players and coaching staff and trainers, but also includes the Youth Academy and its coaches and operations staff. On the other side is Commercial, which includes all business operations of the club, including communications, sponsorships, digital media, retail, licensing, marketing and ticket sales.


FÚTBOL

Selection of Sporting Director

Paul McDonough was named Inter Miami CF’s first sporting director in August 2018.

Stocking The Team: Breaking Down The Inter Miami Squad

Over the summer and fall, Inter Miami CF will need to begin signing players to its first-team roster. But Miami won’t be able to just go out and sign any player who it wants and who is interested in coming to Miami. A Major League Soccer club’s active roster is comprised of up to 30 players. Inter Miami’s players will occupy roster spots that are numbered from 1 to 30.

“I think you’re going to see a tremendously talented team,” said Mas.

Senior Roster

Inter Miami’s best players will occupy slots 1-20 on the roster. These 20 players will count against the MLS team Salary Budget of $4,240,000 (using 2019 limits), and will be referred to collectively as the club’s Senior Roster.

Supplemental Roster

Inter Miami will also have up to 4 players on its Supplemental Roster. These players occupy roster slots 21-24 and do not count against the club’s Salary Budget. Slots 21-24 may be filled with (i) Senior Minimum Salary Players ($70,250 in 2019), which may include Homegrown Players, (ii) Generation adidas Players, (iii) any specifically Designated Players eligible for the MLS SuperDraft; or (iv) Homegrown Players earning more than the Senior Minimum Salary subject to the Homegrown Player Subsidy.

Reserve Roster

Includes players occupying roster slots 25-28. All players in slots 25-28 must be paid a base salary that is at least the Reserve Minimum Salary ($56,250).

Reserve Roster slots 29 and 30

Players occupying roster slots 29 and 30 must be Homegrown Players and will follow the same roster and budget rules as Homegrown Players occupying Reserve Roster slots 25-28.


“We’re going to have surprises for our fans in 2020.”

Fans expect the club to be big players in the free agent market overseas. Between the ambitions of the ownership group and Beckham’s character and fame, together with the appeal of Miami as an international playground, Inter Miami CF is probably on the shortlist of best places to play in MLS. Inter Miami has targeted 8 or 9 players from European teams, players who also play on their international teams. Mas says they’ve not only met with players, but deals could be announced by the end of the summer.

As David Beckham has mentioned more than once, he has received many calls from players interested in taking up residence in sunny South Florida. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, this author was captured by the beautiful weather and lifestyle many years ago.

“It’s not surprising for us, we know with the ownership group we have – the ambition – the city we live in, it’s going to be desirable for players to come,” McDonough said, before seeing the lighter side of the monsoon of players linked with his club. “It’s more about trying to take the time to field all the calls to find out if they’re true or not.”

Mas has hinted at possible big-time free agent signings. He also said, “If you go into our offices, I’ve seen at least 12 potential rosters.” David Beckham has also mentioned more than once that he has received interests from scores of very well known players.

“We will have three Designated Players in our first year,” Sporting Director Paul McDonough told MLSsoccer.com unequivocally last week. “It’s an ongoing process, we’re talking with guys. We’ve had some meetings. Trying to figure out if we’re right for them and [if] they’re right for us. It’s all progressing well.”

In MLS teams can sign three designated players, whose salaries do not count against the teams overall salary budget cap.

Indeed, signing three top DP’s will not in and of itself give Miami a clear path to MLS Cup. There is still a salary cap to contend with, and limited international roster spots. Thus, a strong commitment to scouting is needed to fill out the remainder of the roster.

The use of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) will no doubt play a significant role in building Inter Miami’s roster. MLS invented TAM as a way to increase the quality of play across the league. Using current rules, in 2019, MLS teams receive $1.2 million of TAM per year. MLS clubs also have the flexibility to spend up to an additional $2.8 million of TAM, on a discretionary basis funded by the team, per year, in 2019. This team-funded injection will increase Miami’s ability to build its roster with increased flexibility and help add high-quality players outside of the three Designated Player spots.

The appeal of players from South and Central America will fit with Miami’s population. Some of those players will likely arrive directly from those countries, while others may return from Europe. With its quality leagues and competitions, players with European experience will bring a lot of skill to Miami.

It is certain that Inter Miami will be active in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft, having one of the top-2 picks this year. However, it’s important to explain that the MLS “SuperDraft,” as it is called, is not as important to MLS as drafts are to other North American sports. This past season saw Philadelphia trading all five of its draft choices to Cincinnati for targeted allocation money. (Link: Union-say-show-us-the-money-trade-all-5-mls-superdraft-picks/) Teams have also even passed on making a draft selection.

Nashville will also be entering MLS in 2020, so both clubs will compete in the Expansion Draft. If the rules from prior seasons hold, Miami and Nashville will each be able to select five players; however, they will not be able to select players from any teams that lost players in the most recent expansion draft that FC Cincinnati took part in. Also, existing teams were allowed to protect 11 players from their Senior, Supplemental, and Reserve Roster. Only one player could have been claimed from each club’s non-protected roster; that team was not allowed to lose any further players. [For example, the five teams that had players selected by Los Angeles FC during the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft were exempt from the 2018 Expansion Draft: Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, Columbus Crew SC, and Toronto FC.]

For Miami and Nashville, those “off-limit” teams would be: DC United, Vancouver, FC Dallas, Houston and the Red Bulls.

The effect of Inter Miami having its first players before a head coach is appointed means that players will be selected based on the club’s vision.

“David [Beckham] and I have talked about what we want the club to be like, how we want to play. Hopefully we’ll find players and a coach that match our philosophy,” says McDonough.

“We’ll definitely have players signed by the summer,” McDonough said, without getting into further details or a more specific timeline for their first player. “I want to make it a surprise.”

Timeline of Rumours and Developments Related to Player Signings:

3 June 2019: A story reported on Catalunya Radio and Esport3 says that Inter Miami has made an offer to Luis Suárez to sign the Barcelona forward as its first designated player. Suárez has not rejected the offer, which is reported to be for 4 years. His current contract with FC Barcelona expires in 2021. (June 30, 2021 as is the custom in European contracts)

Selection of Head Coach

Mas has travelled to Europe several times interview potential coaches. He says the list of possible head coaches is narrowed down to three.

A head coach (manager) is expected to be named in mid 2019. Several months ago, Chief Business Officer Jurgen Mainka had this to say when asked:

McDonough agrees the club’s first players will come before a head coach is announced. Given the club’s own timetable and availability of potential head coaches he estimates the club will have a quarter of the roster in place before appointing a head coach.

The Inter Miami CF Academy

Academy Staff

The club has started with local successful academy coaches to begin to fill out the Inter Miami CF Academy coaching staff.

Academy Players

Fans will be able to see the first team begin practice in January 2020, but the future stars of this team will begin practices in June 2019. Expect Inter Miami CF to take the same approach that the biggest clubs in the world follow, the philosophy that at the centre of any great soccer team is its academy. Growing local talent to feed the top team will ideally be the backbone for the club.

Paul McDonough, Inter Miami’s Sporting Director, has spearheaded a group that scouted 6,000 young men from the area, tried out 650, and from there selected 160 for the youth academy. (Inter-Miami-CF-Academy-la-academia/)

Mas says you can expect to see their top academy team travelling to compete on an international level as well.

June 2, 2019 saw the first official practices of the Inter Miami CF Academy. The U-12-13 and U14-15 members gathered at the Central Broward Regional Sports Complex to conduct some training and scrimmages.

For more about the beginning of the Academy, and Academy development, link here to go to my section on the Inter Miami CF Academy.