Major League Soccer
Filings, Connections Suggest Name for Miami MLS Team
Somebody get this man a shirt! Perhaps one with a Miami team name and logo emblazoned on it. ASN contributor Josh Deaver looked into one possible name for David Beckham's new MLS franchise.
BY Josh Deaver PostedEditor's note: This is an update to an earlier Josh Deaver piece posted on American Soccer Now. AN ALLEGED DESIGN CONCEPT for David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, tentatively slated for debut in 2017, was recently leaked online. Black, Teal and Fuchsia, it screams South Beach. And with an instantly recognizable name like “Miami Vice”—one whose place in the cultural zeitgeist is comparable to that of its owner—it seems like a perfect fit. The problem with the Miami Vice concept is just that: it's a concept. Buzz-worthy and eye-catching as it may have been, one wonders how far a nod toward an unfortunately canonized television show could carry a brand with global ambitions. Especially one attached to a sporting icon such as Beckham. The notion that Major League Soccer would float “Vice” as a possible team name on its own website—thereby killing any P.R. payoff of a future reveal—further speaks to the unlikelihood of seeing the design brought to fruition. Beckham's publicist, Simon Oliveira, likewise took to social media to lambast the report, calling it "hogwash." “Vice” may not be the answer, but the question remains the same: What will David Beckham call his Miami MLS franchise? The Palm Beach Post, which originally released the concept art, reported that three names are currently under consideration for the Beckham Group: Miami Vice, Miami Current and an "undisclosed name tied to a corporate sponsor." If true, newly uncovered information seems to indicate the the last of these three as the most likely outcome. A trademark filing, submitted in June 2013 by InteliSport Inc., appears to signal a new incarnation of Miami's once-shuttered MLS franchise—Miami Fusion FC. But what do we know about InteliSport, and how does it connect to David Beckham? A cursory search for the organization yields nothing but the above filing—which serves as the only trademark registered with the company. A similar filing to secure the web domain MiamiFusionFC.com was also officially registered by the group in November. The trademark claim mentions one man by name, West Palm Beach attorney Mark Passler, but otherwise there is sparse information on what InteliSport actually is. The only piece of relevant data comes with the primary address included in the trademark claim, one which can be directly linked to Aventura, Florida technology outfit, the Inteligensa Group, a company that specializes in the "design and implantation of identification and payment systems." Coincidently or not, one of its products is known as the "InteliSport," a turnstile ID reader for use at sporting events. With no independent contact information of its own, as well as being officially registered in the Virgin Islands, all signs point to InteliSport Inc. acting as an off-shore holding company for Inteligensa. The web domain registration for MiamiFusionFC.com only confirms the connection. Registered to one Giuseppe Cipollitti, the listed administrator information is abridged to contain only the registrants’ name. However, other domain filings—submitted simultaneously by InteliSport—for MiamiFusion.info (along with .net and .biz), list a second mailing address as well as a previously unconnected e-mail account and Miami-area telephone number. The Gmail account listed as the primary billing address is confirmed as belonging to Inteligensa president Venanzio Cipollitti, whose middle name is Giuseppe. The attached phone number, listed in multiple locations as a contact number for Mr. Cipollitti, went to an unidentified voicemail. A nearby Coral Gables address is attached to a law firm previously used by Inteligensa when applying for LLC status in 2009. When reached for comment on any possible connection between his filings and David Beckham’s Miami MLS franchise, Cipollitti offered the following response via e-mail: “Miami Fusion FC is a major professional sports project. We cannot provide any further information for now.” The tangible connection between InteliSport, Inteligensa, and David Beckham is revealed through the aforementioned Mark Passler. Listed as a correspondent on the initial trademark filing, Passler, an entertainment law and intellectual property specialist, is currently employed by high-powered Miami law firm Akerman Senterfitt LLP. In November, the Miami office of Akerman registered as official lobbyists for Beckham Brand Limited; since utilizing their local connections to help facilitate his recently announced partnership with MLS. It was a move that forced Miami Downtown Development Authority board member Neisen Kasdin—also a partner at Akerman—to recuse himself from recent discussions regarding the proposed stadium project at the PortMiami site. A state of Florida corporate registration for Miami Fusion FC LLC, filed three weeks after the Akerman-Beckham partnership was made official, is also covered in the firm’s fingerprints. While never mentioned specifically in the documents, a copy of the publicly available receipt confirms the account billed for the LLC application as “Akerman LLP-Miami." Registered through longtime associate Pedro Freyre, the principal address included in the LLC application is one shared by the Akerman’s downtown Miami office—which, as of December, is now also listed as the primary contact information for InteliSport Inc. If you're following along at home, Miami Fusion FC LLC, InteliSport Inc., and Akerman Senterfitt are all currently registered in the same location. The lone unconnected dot remains a second unknown “Authorized Person” on the Miami Fusion LLC documents (the first being InteliSport). Listed officially as Fernando De Matthaeis, there is no publically available information—foreign or domestic, corporate or sporting—regarding his identity or his connection to Inteligensa, Akerman or David Beckham. Despite the misspelling, the name will perhaps be familiar to soccer buffs as similar to that of Ferdinando De Matthaeis, a former New York Cosmos alum and current U15 coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Bizarrely enough, De Matthaeis coached Venanzio Cipollitti’s son, Diego during the 2010-11 USSDA season. A request for comment was not returned. While there is no definitive smoking gun connecting Beckham personally to the myriad of legal filings, there is an undeniable direct link, displayed on more than one instance, between the Beckham lobbyists at Akerman Senterfitt and the trademark holders at InteliSport Inc.—a suspected shell company seemingly designed to collect Fusion assets and create a firewall of plausible deniability around Beckham until an official announcement can be made. Inteligensa has not been publically floated as an investor in the Beckham project—much the way Miami-based telecommunications company, Brightstar Corp. has—but such behavior is not unheard of for high-profile and secretive projects. One may recall Dan Snyder, owner of NFL’s Washington Redskins, registering a trademark claim for the name “Washington Bravehearts” through a next-door neighbor, with the understanding it be transferred back when the time was right. These connections were, of course, vociferously denied. It seems highly unlikely that the above filings—described as part of a “professional sports project”—are unrelated to South Florida’s reunion with MLS. However, it has been suggested that such claims may not definitively signal the club’s identity and could simply be a way to preserve the Fusion brand, even if the Beckham group chooses not to move forward with the name. A New York City trademark law specialist calls this scenario “highly unlikely.” The lawyer requested anonymity because he was not authorized by his employer to speak about the case “You can only get a registration if you actually use the mark for the goods and services listed in the application,” he explained. That includes, merchandise, apparel, and “conducting and staging professional soccer games and exhibitions. The application otherwise can serve only as a deterrent, and only for a maximum period of about three years. Unless you actually use the mark you can't get a registration and you can't actually block anyone else from using it.” The final possibility is that the trademark claim is completely unrelated to MLS or David Beckham. This would mean Mr. Cipollitti and InteliSport coincidentally chose to utilize Akerman Senterfitt, a firm which—while risking significant backlash as a registered lobbyist for the Beckham concern—nevertheless proceeded with wholly independent filings to help engender the basis for an unrelated Miami-area professional soccer team. Possible? Yes, but it seems an increasingly unlikely hypothesis. Taken together, it's a trail of breadcrumbs that may reveal the identity of the mysterious corporate sponsor and, in turn, the unidentified team name reported in the Palm Beach Post story. Or, if the initial report was an inaccurate as Beckham’s publicist portrayed, it may simply be the legal bedrock on which the name could be resurrected in MLS. Biding his time in South Beach, David Beckham has laid out a bold vision for his new club; one with promises of high-profile signings, a state-of-the-art youth academy and a reinvigorated synergy with the famously fair-weather Miami sports community. What better way to connect than an appeal to tradition—albeit, a limited one—by stoking the still-smoldering embers of Miami Fusion FC? ASN Contributing Editor Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter.
February 27, 2014
February 27, 2014