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Few in-house attorneys have as many eyes on them as Pablo Alvarez must have felt in June 2023 when Lionel Messi, inarguably the most famous soccer player in the world, announced his intention to join Major League Soccer (MLS)’s Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, or Inter Miami CF. Alvarez, vice president and general counsel for the football club, was part of an extensive contingent of lawyers, agents, and executives working to bring Messi to co-owner David Beckham’s MLS team.
The thirty-six-year-old Messi won a dozen league titles, World Cup and Copa America trophies for Argentina, and four UEFA Champions League titles also set new records in merchandising upon his signing with Inter Miami. In the first twenty-four hours of his Inter Miami Number 10 jersey going on sale, Messi beat out Cristiano Ronaldo, Tom Brady, and LeBron James as the highest-volume mover in a day in the history of sports merchandise company Fanatics.
Inter Miami became the top-selling team across Fanatics, an unprecedented feat for an MLS team. Meanwhile, ticket prices for Miami matches increased five-fold on ticket reseller StubHub.
Messi immediately made an impact, helping Inter Miami win the team’s first-ever Leagues Cup and making it to the finals of the US Open Cup. By virtually every metric, the signing of Messi has been an unprecedented success. Before he signed, the team had entered Leagues Cup at the very bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference standings.
As reported by Bloomberg Law, it took lawyers from all over the globe to bring Messi to Miami. Inter Miami’s Alvarez was a vital part of that group, working in tandem with Brandon Briggs, the vice president of legal and human resources. Alvarez came to Inter Miami after years at MasTec Inc., a construction and infrastructure engineering company linked to Inter Miami majority owners Jorge and Jose Mas.
While Messi is the main mover, it’s vital to point out that Messi was joined by two former teammates from Barcelona—Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The signings indicate co-owner and soccer great David Beckham’s fierce desire to make Inter Miami an MLS powerhouse and grow the respect for soccer in the US.
“The future of soccer in America is so bright,” Beckham said in a press conference the day before Messi’s Inter Miami debut. “I’ve seen the growth of it over the last ten, fifteen years . . . bringing someone like [Messi] not just to Inter Miami but to MLS, to America, it means so much. You have the eyes of not just Latin America, but the world on Miami.”
Valuations of MLS soccer franchises continue to rise. The league set single-season attendance records for the eighth consecutive year in 2023 (excluding the pandemic years), and with the FIFA World Club in North America in 2026, those numbers are expected to rise.
The future at Inter Miami seems as bright as their flamingo-pink home uniforms. A new stadium, Miami Freedom Park (a temporary name until naming rights are secured), is in the process of being built. The 25,000-seat stadium will also include a 131-acre development for office, retail and commercial space, 750 hotel rooms, and acres of public space and soccer fields.
“Pablo is a natural problem-solver who listens carefully and considers different perspectives when making decisions,” says Greenberg Traurig Miami Shareholder Iris Escarra, co-chair of the firm’s Land Use Practice and legal counsel to Miami Freedom Park, the future home of Inter Miami. “He’ll first analyze and assess the issue and then give clear direction and feedback to resolve it, which makes him an effective leader of the legal team for a transformative project like Miami Freedom Park.”
Founded in Miami in 1967, global law firm Greenberg Traurig is proud to partner with Inter Miami CF Vice President and General Counsel Pablo Alvarez to support the continued growth and success of South Florida’s Major League Soccer team. Attorneys in the firm’s multidisciplinary Sports Law Practice regularly draw on their deep industry knowledge and experience to successfully represent clients in land use planning, real estate transactions, naming rights agreements, and other matters.