Maldini heads US franchise Miami FC

Paolo Maldini has beaten David Beckham to the Miami market, launching new NASL club Miami FC on Wednesday.

The North American Soccer League (NASL) will expand in 2016, after Miami FC – co-owned by former Italy defender Paolo Maldini – was launched.

Maldini, 46, has teamed up with president and co-owner Riccardo Silva to bring football to Miami, with the club to begin playing in the second-tier NASL next year, it was announced on Wednesday.

Miami FC, who will also compete in the US Open Cup, will play their home matches in one of city's "existing world class stadiums".

Wednesday's news come as iconic ex-England international David Beckham has long been looking to launch an MLS franchise in Miami, though finding a location for a football-specific stadium has proved a stumbling block.

"I'm proud and excited to be part of this venture. I strongly believe in the growth of soccer in the USA, and this is the perfect project to develop a top-class soccer team in one of the most important cities in the world," said Maldini, who won seven Serie A titles during his illustrious career with Milan.

"We are glad not only to bring a professional soccer team to Miami, but also to support all of its 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.

"Miami has been my second home for 15 years, so I look forward to spending more and more time here as co-owner of Miami FC, giving my enthusiastic contribution for its success."

Silva added: "Soccer is the fastest growing professional sport in the USA, and Miami is a dynamic and multi-cultural city that is passionate for sports and has been longing for a marquee soccer franchise.

"Soccer and international culture are a perfect combination - especially for the youth and future generations to come - and it is highly valuable having Paolo Maldini, who will bring his soccer knowledge and shares our vision and our passion."

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