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MIAMI, FL – It is official for the Magic City. Finally.
Major League Soccer formally announced Wednesday morning that they are awarding Miami a new franchise, with international soccer icon and former MLS star David Beckham as the club's primary owner and managing partner.
"This is an exciting time, " Beckham said at the announcement ceremony, packed with press and cameras from across the globe. "This is an exciting time for myself, exciting time for my family and friends and partners. And something that we're really looking forward to bringing to Miami."
Don Garber, the commissioner of the MLS, stressed that Beckham was establishing a new model in the league's history.
"What an incredibly historic day for Major League Soccer," Garber said. "This is the first time in the modern era than an ex-athlete is joining the ranks of ownership and will become the managing partner of a professional soccer team."
The MLS has been down this road before. The Miami Fusion, which was located in Fort Lauderdale, folded in 2002 due to a lack of fan support.
"I know this city is ready for football, soccer, this time around," Beckham said. "I know this is going to be successful. I have always said throughout my career, whether there's challenges or not, to be successful you have to work hard. I have worked through my whole career and I am going to work hard for this city, and I am going to work hard for this league to make this team very successful."
Beckham said that he and his partners – which include Simon Fuller, the British TV entrepreneur who created the American Idol series – do not plan on building the team's new stadium with public funding, which would come as a relief for some local leaders who were concerned about raising funds for the proposed project.
"We can fund the stadium ourselves," Beckham said. "We want to create a soccer team, a football club, that is the people's football club."
The new Miami franchise, which has yet to be named, is expected to start play in the league as early as 2016.
Beckham was voted as one of the "Top 125 greatest living footballers" by FIFA and has played on some of the sports biggest stages: the World Cup, Champions League, and top clubs in five different countries.
"This is a dream, you know, if someone would have turned to me at 11 years old and said, 'You're going to play for Manchester United, you are going to represent England, you're going to play for Real Madrid, AC Milan, LA Galaxy, and then become an owner,' I probably would not believe them." Beckham said, standing on the large stage, flanked by Miami's municipal leaders. "But I have lived the dream."