In July 2022 Richard Cross, GIS Americas Regional Recruitment Manager was in Florida to engage with the latest GIS Global Campus at Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium Campus. We sat down with him to discuss his time there.

Why were you visiting Miami?

Given the huge increase in popularity of soccer in the region, I was keen to get on the ground and support Catherine Garrido, GIS Americas Regional Director, in the development of the campus. The opportunity to meet with engaged fans, partners and organisations in the area was a fantastic chance to understand the market in much greater detail.

I want to help GIS offer the most appropriate support and offerings for people to engage further with the sports industry through GIS’ bespoke programs in the USA. Having grown up in Canada and following the MLS in the earlier days with the Vancouver Whitecaps, I was very keen to get involved again and see how the league is developing.  

Why is Miami such a good sporting location for students?

Being the multi-cultural, passionate sporting city that Miami is, it makes complete sense for an institution such as GIS to be involved there. With the announcement as a 2026 World Cup Host City, the recent inaugural F1 Grand Prix, the global presence of teams such as the Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins and the new addition of Inter Miami CF, the future is looking bright for sport in Miami.

From a student and future industry leader perspective, gaining experience within the region can have untold positive effects on career prospects as students would study in one of the fastest growing sports markets in the world. Not to mention the cosmopolitan atmosphere and beautiful landscape that the region has to offer, meaning Miami is becoming even more of an attractive place to live, study and work, especially from a sporting context.

What did you learn in your time out there?

The love of soccer in the region was no more obvious than in the build-up to the thrilling Inter Miami vs Charlotte FC MLS match. With 30 minutes to go before kick-off, the heavens opened with downpour and lightning bombarded the sky, prompting match officials to delay kick-off ultimately by over an hour and a half.

The weather did nothing to dampen the atmosphere of the event with the drums still blasting, fans still singing and the continuous banter between fans. Nobody seemed deterred by the change of plans and when Gonzalo Higuain scored the winning goal to conclude a two-goal comeback in the 93rd minute to win 3-2 it was all but forgotten by the La Familia faithful.

Furthermore, speaking with partners at Orlando City, Miami AC, Rush Soccer, USL and many more, the commitment to the development of the game within the region became clear. I truly believe we are entering a new dawn for North American soccer with the USA, Canada and Mexico all qualifying for a World Cup for the first time ever with young, exciting squads. Then to host the following, much bigger, 48 team tournament across the three countries will serve to inspire a new generation of soccer fans, players and coaches in the region.

What do you consider the main differences in football in the UK and the USA?

The difference in football culture between the UK and the USA is stark at its core, however no less passionate in America. The diehard La Familia fan group of Inter Miami resembled the energy and drive that emanates from some of the hotbeds of Latin American ‘futbol’ such as Buenos Aires, Santiago & Rio De Janeiro.

Wherein the UK, if your team is evidently losing at home be it 1-0 or 4-0 the chanting softens, stands begin to empty and the jeers of away fans singing ‘bye bye’ becomes the soundtrack, in the MLS the diehard fan contingents (or supporter groups) only get louder and louder to spur the team on and remind players and club officials alike that in a league system they may have lost the battle but the war is still to be won. Should the MLS ever decide to adopt a relegation system we will see how the fan engagement continues.

Due to the sheer scale of the USA, the away fan culture is objectively hard to come by which serves as a huge opportunity area for Home teams to capitalize on having complete control over the atmosphere and bias of the audience. You only have to look at Atlanta United who utilise the jaw-dropping 73,000 seater Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Also a GIS Global Study Hub) magnificently to provide a truly intimidating place for away teams to visit, which proved a critical factor in their 2018 MLS Cup success in only their second season in the league.

The matches I attended had a family-friendly feel to them which was a breath of fresh air in many respects. Whilst the occasional lawlessness of world football certainly has given a raw appeal and atmosphere that has piqued for decades, in this modern age of acceptance, positive social change and zero tolerance for issues such as racism, sexism and violence, the likes of the Premier League are fighting a battle to change the norms that have been long associated with the game.

The MLS, however, has grown up alongside the changing nature of the sport and witnessing player family’s converse with fans, supporters from all ages, genders and backgrounds in attendance and enjoying themselves ahead of an entertaining evening is what it should be all about. 

What do GIS offer in Miami?

One thing became clear from my experience: Miamians want to engage with the football industry and they want to do this imminently. GIS currently provides a range of bespoke graduate programs to instil knowledge, gain connections and ultimately get students and professionals into their dream careers in sport.

The need for academically-trained quality coaches in the American leagues has never been bigger and clubs are more and more wanting to employ and empower homegrown coaches and analysts. GIS recognised this and with the expert insight of the Academic Advisory Board, and introduced two coaching focused courses in MSc Football Coaching and MSc Football Coaching & Analysis to meet the demand.

The Blended delivery of the courses is perfect for coaches currently in positions, whether in MLS sides or somewhere in the USL system of clubs, to upskill themselves in a flexible manner and be able to implement coaching techniques on a daily basis to further embed new tactics into their players and teams.

For those coaches looking to really ramp up their experience and knowledge of the game who perhaps are currently in youth clubs, additional included opportunities such as the GIS Global Sports Summits around the region in Miami, Atlanta, New York and Toronto can be brilliant opportunities to network and begin climbing your way up the coaching ladder.

Lastly, what were your personal highlights of the trip?

One event that really stood out to me was attending the Inter Miami vs FC Barcelona match at DRV PNK Stadium. This match was interesting as it was an out and out pre-season friendly… for Barcelona, yet for Inter Miami this proved to be the third game in a seven day period and despite being against one of the largest sports teams in the world it was clear that Miami were not too bothered about exuding themselves physically.

The performance prompted me to consider these pre-season friendlies from the perspective of the MLS side and question ‘what’s in it for them’. This being said, the sheer volume of staff coordination, logistics and travel involved in a team tour in a foreign country is truly impressive and with more and more events such as this popping up on the football calendar it certainly bodes well for job opportunities and travel in the industry.

The football world tends to typically prioritise the European football calendar and in this instance failed to recognise the impact such a ‘non-event’ may have on the MLS sides in the middle of an intensive season. With similar matches taking place in Charlotte, Minneapolis and Orlando as well as Liga MX side Club America over ten days, taking on the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City in friendlies in the USA with a league match against Club Tijuana in there it does beg questions around the future collaborations between North American & European sides.

For those sceptical about the commitment to European teams that American-based fans may have, look no further than the Chelsea vs Arsenal Florida Cup game in Orlando. A 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea from Mikel Arteta’s recently impressive Arsenal side in front of a sold-out record breaking 63,811 Camping World Stadium provided an atmosphere that quite simply was better than any atmosphere I have experienced at Stamford Bridge or the Emirates. Chanting, swearing, knowledge, banter, celebrations were all in full swing from a crowd of people who on-paper don’t have much of a connection to the geography of their respective teams. If the quality and pull of the MLS continues to improve they can rest assured the fans and atmosphere will follow suit.

If you would like to reach out to Richard and discuss our Miami Campus please reach him at