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Carmelo Anthony brings pro soccer back to Puerto Rico, unveils NASL franchise

NBA All-Star Game 2015

NBA All-Star Game 2015

Jim McIsaac

NBA star Carmelo Anthony is now the owner of his own professional soccer team.

Anthony, who plays for the New York Knicks, announced on Thursday that he has formed a franchise in the North American Soccer League (NASL) which will be called Puerto Rico FC and become the 13th team to call North America’s second-tier home.

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Speaking at the unveiling Anthony, 31, revealed his deep-rooted love for Puerto Rico and his delight at bringing pro soccer back to the Island.

“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,” Anthony 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.”

Puerto Rico FC will play its home games at the recently-renovated Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon which has a capacity of 12,500.

Previous pro soccer clubs to call Puerto Rico home include the Puerto Rico Islanders of the USL who then switched to the NASL before disbanding and then three teams who briefly spent time in the USL, Puerto Rico United, Club Atletico River Plate Puerto Rico and Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, before heading back to Puerto Rico’s domestic league.

Anthony is just the latest in a number of high-profile sports stars who have invested in the NASL. Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini and Riccardo Silva have recently become owners of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami FC respectively.

As for Anthony, the NBA star is planning to bring success to the soccer scene in Puerto Rico.

“I am committed to bring soccer to the next level in Puerto Rico,” Anthony said. “To the thousands of fans in Puerto Rico that have been waiting for soccer to come back, I can promise a world-class organization in a world-class league, with a strong social mission to provide kids the opportunity to participate in this growing sport.”

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