Cayman residents looking to watch live professional football close by will soon get a chance with the formation of a team in Miami.
Entrepreneur Riccardo Silva and football legend Paolo Maldini have teamed up to form the Miami Football Club, co-owned by the pair.
Miami FC, which will be the city’s only professional soccer club, begins playing in the North American Soccer League in 2016. The club will also compete in the U.S. Open Cup and will host international tournaments and friendly matches. Home games will be played in one of the existing stadiums.
The club will also promote community initiatives and charitable work through The Miami Foundation and the Play for Change Foundation.
Silva, president and founder of the MP & Silva group, a sports media rights company, will promote Miami FC matches through 50 TV channels covering more than 150 countries.
Maldini, 46, will use his unparalleled soccer expertise and contacts to select a world-class team and technical staff. He represented Italy in four FIFA World Cups and won five UEFA Champions League titles with AC Milan, where he spent his entire 25-year playing career.
The ownership group of Miami FC includes Silva, Maldini, MP & Silva and a group of international investors led by Antonio Barreto, a longtime sports and media entrepreneur and Miami resident who will be CEO of the Miami FC. Silva’s company is a global leader in television rights distribution with an annual turnover of more than $700 million and 20 offices around the world.
TV rights distributed include FIFA World Cup, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1, NFL and Roland Garros.
The Silva family owns a major chemical group in Italy, Gruppo Desa Italsilva, founded by his grandfather and leader in the production of detergent and soap.
In Miami, Silva fortune involves real estate, restaurants, modelling and music enterprises. He is also a donor and a supporter of the New World Center of Miami and of the Bass Museum of Art.
“I’m proud to support a venture that not only is bringing world-class professional soccer to Miami but also a project with an active charity program for the local community,” said Silva, 44.
“As Miami moves forward in the world of business and arts, we felt it was a good time to also take a step further in the world of sports and soccer, and we will do that with dedication and passion.”
Silva added that football is the fastest growing professional sport in the U.S. and Miami is an ideal city to launch a professional team.
Maldini said, “I’m proud and excited to be part of this venture. I strongly believe in the growth of soccer in USA, and this is the perfect project to develop a top-class soccer team in one of the most important cities of the world.
“We are glad not only to bring a professional soccer team to Miami, but also to support its poorest communities through our social responsibility commitment. We believe that the fast-growing NASL will be the perfect platform to develop a successful team and a valuable business.”
Maldini added that Miami has been his second home for 15 years and he looks forward to spending more time there.