Orlando City Soccer signs Brazilian superstar Kaká
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva knows there's no way his Major League Soccer expansion franchise could take the place of any Brazil club in the hearts of any Brazilian soccer fan. But with the signing of Kaká, da Silva, he hopes there's one room for more.
He said Tuesday when Orlando City SC formally introduced the three-time World Cup participant, "We want to be that second club."
Kaká was expected to join a watch party of the United States-Belgium World Cup match Tuesday afternoon.
The signing of Kaká to a multi-year contract marks an historic milestone. The 32-year old midfielder, whose full name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, will join the club when it begins MLS play in January 2015. Kaká has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, such as Spain's Real Madrid and most recently with Italy's A.C. Milan.
He says the move is not about the money, but that it is "a life opportunity, for myself, for my family."
Simply put, Kaká, who has appeared for the Brazilian National Team more than 80 times, including as recently as last year, has compiled one of the most highly decorated resumes of any soccer player in history both on and off the pitch:
3-Time FIFA World Cup participant
FIFA World Cup Champion
FIFA World Player of the Year
European Player of the Year (Ballon D'Or)
FIFA Club World Championship MVP
UEFA Champions League Champion
UEFA Super Cup Champion
FIFA Club World Cup Champion
Serie A (Italy) Champion
La Liga (Spain) Champion
Top 5 Social Media Followers in World
More Twitter Followers & Facebook Likes than any U.S. Athlete
First Athlete in world to amass more than 10 million Twitter followers
Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World (2008 & 2009)
United Nation's World Food Program International Ambassador
Kaká has been signed as a MLS Designated Player. Per MLS Rules, each Club may sign up to three players which only have a portion of their salaries.
The signing marks the next chapter in what has been a long-standing relationship between Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and Kaká. Augusto, who founded WiseUP which is an international chain of English-language schools, hired Kaká previously to serve as the company's official spokesperson. While Augusto has since sold his majority ownership of WiseUP, his friendship with Kaká has remained strong. Further helping to solidify the agreement to join Orlando City is Kaká's long-standing love affair with Central Florida where he has vacationed in the off-season for many years.
This player signing further strengthens Orlando City's ties with the country of Brazil. In addition to Augusto being born and raised in Brazil, and Brazilians representing the highest number of visitors annually to Orlando (which is the world's most visited city with over 70 million tourists last year), Orlando City recently became the first U.S. professional sports team to air its matches live via Portuguese-language broadcasts.
Kaká is a nickname which was created by his younger brother due to his inability to pronounce "Ricardo." The nickname stuck as a kid and he has been known throughout the international soccer community ever since simply as "Kaká."
It was also announced today by Orlando City that it will loan Kaká for six months to Sao Paulo F.C., one of the top Brazilian clubs and Kaká's hometown club. Kaká will then start play with Orlando City on January 1, 2015 in preparation for the Club's inaugural MLS season.