Major League Soccer
Will David Beckham Name Team "Miami Fusion FC"?
Josh Deaver wanted to find out what David Beckham intends to call his MLS franchise, so he started digging around. And then he dug some more. And then he found some very interesting clues.
BY Josh Deaver PostedEditor's Note: An update to this story is available here. Read that one instead, please. AN ALLEGED DESIGN CONCEPT for David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, tentatively slated for debut in 2017, was leaked online Tuesday morning. Black, Teal and Fuchsia, it screams Miami. 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. Cartoonish on its face, a near parody, one wonders how far a nod toward an unfortunately canonized television show can carry a brand with global ambitions. Especially one attached to a sporting icon such as Beckham. The notion that Major League Soccer would perpetuate the idea as a "possible team name" on its own website—thereby killing any payoff of a future reveal—only speaks to the unlikelihood of seeing the design brought to fruition. Beckham's publicist, Simon Oliveira, likewise took to social media on Tuesday night to lambast the report, calling it "hogwash." 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 latter as the most likely outcome. A recent 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. Contracted by the league in 2001 after four years of poor attendance and lack of profitability, the Fusion, along with the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, long represented the cautionary tale of American soccer in the southeast. Recently, however, the tide has turned. Orlando has been granted an MLS franchise and is slated to join the league prior to the 2015 season. Along with ongoing discussions with Arthur Blank, owner of NFL's Atlanta Falcons, Commissioner Don Garber has clearly made this southern revival a top priority for the league. In Miami, Beckham has laid out a bold vision for the club; one with promises of a state-of-the-art youth academy, extensive scouting infrastructure, and a reinvigorated synergy with the famously fair-weather Miami sports community. What better way to connect than by stoking the still-smoldering embers of the Fusion? But what we do we know about InteliSport, and how does it connect to Beckham? A cursory search yields nothing but the above filing—the only trademark registered by the company—along with an address listed as, simply, Aventura, Florida. A similar filing to secure the domain name MiamiFusionFC.com is also registered with the company. The trademark claim only mentions one man by name, Miami-based attorney Mark Passler, but there is no available contact information—or anything, really—on InteliSport. It's the web domain registration that provides the strongest clue. Registered officially to one Giuseppe Cipollitti, there is no administrator contact information listed for MiamiFusionFC.com. However, another domain registration, also filed by Cipollitti and InteliSport, for MiamiFusion.info, lists full contact information that can be traced directly to Inteligensa, a company also based Aventura, Florida 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. A Gmail account listed as the billing e-mail address appears to be the personal account of 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. The ultimate connection between InteliSport Inc., Inteligensa, and David Beckham comes through the aforementioned Mark Passler. An entertainment and sports law specialist, Passler, who is listed as a correspondent on the initial trademark filing, is currently employed by high-powered Miami law firm Akerman Senterfitt. In November, the Miami office of Akerman registered as official lobbyists for Beckham Brand Ltd. 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. While there are no direct ties between Beckham and Inteligensa, there is a direct link from the Beckham lobbyists at Akerman to the trademark holders at InteliSport Inc., which itself appears to be intimately connected to—if not wholly owned by—the aforementioned group. In all, it's a trail of breadcrumbs that may reveal the identity of the mysterious corporate sponsor and, in turn, the unidentified team name indicated in the Palm Beach Post story. It seems highly unlikely that these filings are unrelated to to the MLS-Miami project. However, even if the Beckham Group is responsible, it may not definitively signal the franchise’s identity. They could simply be a way to preserve the Fusion brand, even if they choose not to move forward with the name. Another possibility: the trademark claim is completely unrelated to Miami, MLS, or David Beckham. This would mean Mr. Cipollitti and InteliSport coincidentally chose to utilize the same law firm, which is a registered lobbyist for the Beckham concern, to file a totally separate trademark for an unrelated Miami-area soccer team. Possible? Yes, but evidence is mounting to the contrary. Come 2017, at what one can assume will be called InteliSport Park (or something along those lines) we could very well see a re-birth of Miami Fusion FC. So...what do you think, folks? Is that the team name? And if so, do you like it? Share your thoughts below. ASN Contributing Editor Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter already.
February 13, 2014
February 13, 2014