Matthew Bunch

Matthew Bunch has lived in Miami since 2005, covering a variety of collegiate and professional sports. As Editor in Chief of The Miami Hurricanes, the student newspaper of the University of Miami, Matthew and his staff won the paper's first ACP Pacemaker Award since 1992. With the return of professional soccer to Miami-Dade County in 2016, Matthew channeled his professional interest with his personal passion for the Beautiful Game. You can contact Matthew at bunch.mcs@gmail.com.

BREAKING: City of Fort Lauderdale commission gives final approval to Inter Miami CF construction at Lockhart Stadium site

The City of Fort Lauderdale commission Tuesday evening gave approval for Inter Miami CF to construct a new stadium at the previous site of Lockhart Stadium. Photo via mlssoccer.com

Less than six months after the proposal was introduced, and less than two months after demolition began, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s commission Tuesday night gave final approval to the construction of a stadium at the site of Lockhart Stadium for the use of Inter Miami CF.

The vote, which was unanimous and took only a few minutes of deliberation, now guarantees that Inter Miami CF will have a home to play in when it begins its first Major League Soccer campaign.

There are still wrinkles to iron out. Most notably, the Federal Aviation Administration will have say over the construction process, due to the lot’s proximity to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. According to Chris Wittyngham, who spoke to a team official after the vote, the team is ready to start building as soon as that approval is given.

September start?

640 the Hurricane radio host Andy Slater spoke to the team before the vote. A spokesperson stated that they believe the FAA approval could come in September.

The FAA has been a speed bump on construction at the Lockhart Stadium site before. A long-proposed water park next to the stadium was scuttled because of FAA regulations.

Ownership has routinely stated that they expect the stadium to be completed by the start of the 2020 MLS season.

Florida Soccer Soldiers to host team of British Army soldiers from Coldstream Guards FC

Coldstream Guards FC Florida Soccer Soldiers

In a name-perfect matchup Wednesday night, Florida Soccer Soldiers will host Coldstream Guards FC, a team made up of soldiers from the British Army’s Coldstream Guards.

“Our last few tours have consisted in and around Europe with our last one being to Cyprus last year,” a representative of the team said through Instagram earlier this week. “We thought, why not the states and we just couldn’t say no to Miami.”

The match comes just two days after Coldstream Guards FC faced Red Force FC at Tropical Park. Red Force won that match, 4-2.

The Soccer Soldiers match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. kickoff at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah.

 

FC Barcelona schedule two surprise preseason friendlies, including one vs. Napoli in Miami

Hard Rock Stadium is pictured during an International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid of LaLiga and Manchester United of the Premier League in Miami Gardens on July 31, 2018. FC Barcelona is scheduled to play Napoli at the stadium in August 2019. Photo courtesy Real Madrid.

Just a few months ago, it looked like Miami-Dade County would not have a marquee international club friendly at Hard Rock Stadium, breaking a pattern set for years. However, according to Spanish newspaper Sport, some changes to the Spanish Super Cup may allow FC Barcelona return to South Florida.

For years, the Supercopa de España was contested (like most super cups) before the kickoff of the next league season. However, this season’s version has been moved to Spain’s “winter break,” leaving Barcelona more time before competitive matches start.

In this space, Barcelona have secured an agreement with Seria A side Napoli. Two matches have been agreed to, per Sport. The first, on Aug. 7, will take place at Hard Rock. The second, on Aug. 11, will be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Ticket information has not yet been made public.

Miami at the heart of Relevent Sports’ USSF lawsuit over league matches

Relevent Sports filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Monday. Photographic by Matthew Bunch.

Relevent Sports, LLC, an advertising and marketing firm responsible for bringing high-profile international and club friendlies to North America, has filed suit in New York state court alleging that the U.S. Soccer Federation is improperly prohibiting the organization from bring foreign league matches to the United States.

[googlepdf url=”http://magiccity.soccer/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/RELEVENTSPORTS-LLC-v-UNITED-STATES-SOCCER-FEDERATION-INC.pdf” download=”Download” ]

The lawsuit, which was first reported in the New York Times, is the culmination of months of frustration between Relevent and a number of national federations. Relevent, which is co-owned by Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium owner Stephen Ross, first attempted to bring a La Liga match between Barcelona and Girona back in January. That plan stalled until finally Barcelona withdrew from the LaLiga North America partnership, at least for this season.

The plan was opposed by the U.S. federation, but also the Spanish federation, FIFA and the Spanish players’ union.

It appears that, without fanfare, Relevent tried again, this time attempting to bring two Ecuadorean clubs (Barcelona S.C. and Guayaquil City) to Hard Rock on May 5. This time, the U.S. Federation more directly rejected the proposal.

According to the Relevent complaint, the federation’s refusal to sanction the game is in violation of Federation Bylaw 102, which states the federation’s purpose is, “to promote, govern, coordinate, and administer the growth and development of soccer in all its recognized forms in the United States for all persons of all ages and abilities, including national teams and international games and tournaments.”

USSF response

On Tuesday, the federation responded, claiming that sanctioning of the game would be in violation of FIFA’s guidelines. Therefore, allowing the game to be played would be detrimental to the game and in violation of Bylaw 102.

While the FIFA Council did make its opinion known on the Miami league game matter last year, that opinion has not yet officially been codified in FIFA’s Laws of the Game. The crux of Relevent’s argument is that the Council’s opinion should not be interpreted as official rule.

Copa connection

Interestingly, the court filing in New York Supreme Court (note: the state supreme court in New York is not the highest court, instead generally serving as a civil trial court) confirms reporting from last year that Relevent Sports made efforts to bring the aborted Copa Libertadores final to Miami, and lays the blame for the failure to land the game at the feet of the USSF president (and Miami resident) Carlos Cordiero.

“At the end of 2018, when fan violence prevented the finals of the Copa Libertadores from taking place in Argentina as scheduled, Relevent and Mr. Ross reached out to USSF and its President, Carlos Cordeiro, to offer to stage the final in Miami, Florida. USSF and Cordeiro effectively refused to engage.”

Legal limbo

This is the third Miami-adjacent lawsuit pending for the USSF. The now-defunct North American Soccer League has filed a lawsuit contending that it has violated anti-trust regulations, and a lawsuit spearheaded by local club The Miami FC to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is asking that promotion and relegation be introduced in the American club game.