Paolo Maldini and others launching Miami FC club in NASL

AP News
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Posted: May 20, 2015 2:04 PM

Retired AC Milan standout Paolo Maldini and TV rights entrepreneur Riccardo Silva are launching the Miami Football Club in the North American Soccer League.

Miami FC plans to start playing in 2016. The NASL is the United States' second-tier competition, below Major League Soccer.

The team will play "in one of the existing world-class stadiums of Miami," a statement said from the partners said Wednesday.

Maldini and Silva are backed by a group of international investors led by Antonio Barreto, a longtime sports and media entrepreneur and Miami resident who will be CEO of the club.

"I'm proud and excited to be part of this venture," Maldini said. "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 believe that the fast-growing NASL will be the perfect platform to develop a successful team and a valuable business," Maldini added. "Miami has been my second home for 15 years, so I look forward to spending more and more time here as co-owner of the Miami FC, giving my enthusiastic (contributions) for its success."

Maldini retired in 2009 after playing for Milan for 25 seasons, winning seven Serie A titles and five Champions League trophies.

Silva, the president and founder of the MP & Silva media agency that holds rights to the English Premier League, NBA and Serie A and various other leagues, lives in Miami.

"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," Silva said.

The NASL currently contains 11 teams in the United States in Canada, highlighted by the New York Cosmos.

Separately, David Beckham is planning to start an MLS team in Miami. His group has been searching for a downtown site to build a stadium.

NASL commissioner Bill Peterson called the Miami FC announcement "another testament to the strength of our rapidly growing organization, our owner-friendly structure, and the growing popularity of NASL soccer worldwide.

"Riccardo Silva is a world leader in soccer media, and he has decided, along with his partners, that Miami and the NASL are part of an important future for the game globally," Peterson added. "Miami finally has an ownership group with a global vision and the experience to build a proper club that all of Miami will be proud to support."

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Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf