Carmelo Anthony is the owner of a soccer team in Puerto Rico
By Victor O
NBA star Carmelo Anthony is taking professional soccer back to the island of Puerto Rico after buying an NASL expansion team there.
Anthony has been a secret soccer lover, but has done a good job of keeping it a secret. He told ESPN FC that he had been “going to games, sneaking into games” over the years.
The eight-time NBA All-Star finally decided to make his love for soccer official last Thursday at a press conference that was held in Bayamon. He announced that his new soccer team called Puerto Rico FC will be playing in the NASL starting in the 2016 Fall Season.
“It is an honor for me to bring back soccer to Puerto Rico, my beloved island, birthplace of my father, and a special place that, as you know, I carry with pride in my heart and soul,” the 6’8″ basketball player said. “Through my foundation, I have been coming to Puerto Rico for the past six years, restoring basketball courts in underprivileged communities. Today, I come back to the island — this time with the commitment of restoring professional soccer in Puerto Rico through the NASL.”
Anthony has never hidden his love for Puerto Rico, especially because both he and his wife, La La, have parents who are island natives. The New York Knicks star, who usually spends his off-seasons on the island, said he often felt Puerto Ricans did not really have anything they could call theirs whenever he visited.
The NASL is a division two soccer league in America — below the MLS — currently comprising of 11 teams. With Miami FC already announced last month as a new expansion team, Puerto Rico FC will become the league’s 13th team.
The newly-renovated Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium will be used for Puerto Rico FC’s home matches. The stadium, which has 12,500 seats, is where the island’s national team also plays its matches. It is located in Bayamon, which is around 10 miles away from San Juan.
USA Today’s For The Win reports that Anthony had made previous attempts at reviving another club from the island called the Puerto Rico Islanders. He eventually decided to start his own team instead.
In spite of becoming a soccer team owner, the 31-year-old says his first love remains basketball.
“Basketball is my No. 1 thing,” he told ESPN. “I’m very hands-on, but it’s more about taking the time now during the off-season.”
Anthony is currently trying to recover from a season-ending knee surgery. The Knicks star, whose team just had its worst season ever, is scheduled to take home more than $22 million in salary alone this year.
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