David Beckham goes from soccer player to soccer owner in Miami

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman. This is The World. You've heard of David Beckham, right? Soccer superstar, and, don’t forget, underwear model in his own Super Bowl ad. Well, he’s just announced that he’s building a new Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami. The World’s one-man soccer desk, William Troop was listening in on the announcement today. What do you make of this, William?

William Troop: Well, Marco, on the face of it, this is great for American soccer and Major League Soccer (MLS), because this represents a vote of faith in the League, and it represents someone with very deep pockets coming into invest in the League. David Beckham, yes, is a major sports superstar known around the world, big brand, but more than that, he’s got his own money to back it up.

Werman: Yeah, Beckham keeps injecting the United States with more soccer excitement. This has been tried in Miami before though, and it didn't work so well, right?

Troop: That’s right. Miami was the site for a Major League Soccer team called The Miami Fusion. It, too, was an expansion team. The League has been around since 1996, and then it expanded to include the Miami Fusion, and the Miami Fusion had a lot of trouble, financial trouble. The owners did not have enough money. They spent too much on players’ salaries. They didn't manage to get enough people to come to their stadium. They did not have their own stadium. One of the things that Beckham announced today was that he’s not looking for outside financing or city financing to build a new stadium. He’s going to build it with his own money, he and his partners. That wasn't the case for the Miami Fusion, and it was basically, erased from existence by Major League Soccer back in 2001.

Werman: So it’s a big difference his time around that it’s David Beckham with deep pockets and access to more deep pockets?

Troop: Absolutely. Not only is it David Beckham. One of his partners is Simon Fuller, the creator of American Idol, you might have heard of. He’s also said to be in talks with none other than Lebron James to invest in Major League Soccer and in this team in Miami. So that’s a big difference. But there is another difference here, and that is where the sport of soccer is in America at this point in time – Much different place than it was in 2001, where there was a lot of that doubt that we've heard about so much over the years, you know: Will soccer ever make it in America? Today, it’s very different. The sport has a level of respect. The American sport has a level of respect from people around the world that it didn't have before. There’s a sense that the League and the level of play here in the US has gone up over the last 10 years, and Beckham actually mentioned that in his press conference today.

David Beckham: I've seen the change in this league. I've seen interest in this league. I've seen the likes of Manch United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Rio, Madrid, Barcelona, come over to America, and they spend time here. They want to play against the MLS teams. They’re interested in this league, and that’s what’s changing, and that’s what’s happening. And yeah, there’s a lot of hard work to do.

Troop: And that change, by the way, manifests itself in another very important way, and that is that not only is the sport seen at a higher level here in the US than before from the outside – American players who used to, it used to be just a one-way traffic. You know, the good players would leave the US to go play somewhere else where their level would be higher. Now some top American players are actually coming back from Europe and giving their own vote of confidence to this league that the level of play here has improved. So Beckham is on to something there.

Werman: The World’s William Troop, thank you as always.

Troop: Thank you, Marco.