The Inter Miami pink jersey and what it means to the MLS club
In a way, and despite the exhausting proliferation of the look throughout the league, the white and black uniforms worn by Inter Miami in its first two seasons in MLS were appropriate for a club that did not hold its firsts. promises. For some time, Inter’s brand has been one of delayed gratification.
It took club founder David Beckham six years to organize an ownership group, find a place to play and put a team on the pitch. That field was not inside a brand new, state-of-the-art football palace in Miami, but in an interim modular facility about 30 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale. And that team, lacking the kind of blockbuster signings many expected Beckham to attract, wasn’t very good. Inter are 19-31-8 so far. His original head coach and sporting director, Diego Alonso and Paul McDonough, have already left. The latter remains suspended by MLS following a 2021 investigation into Inter’s breach of league roster rules, which ultimately resulted in more than $2 million in fines and a steep reduction in the club’s 2022-23 salary budget.
We expected so much more. And the gap between possibility and reality was symbolized, in part, by color. Inter unveiled an eye-catching logo in 2018 that appeared with pink, and early marketing materials relied heavily on this uncommon sporty hue. The club draped the front page of the Miami Herald with a bright pink advertisement. It all seemed to set the stage for one of the sport’s most distinctive uniforms, one that would reflect Miami’s unique setting, culture, and glitz (not to mention its fashionable owner). Instead, there was the standard MLS black and white. It was such a disappointment.
But Inter Miami is kicking off a new era on Saturday, one the organization hopes will be a rosy reset reminiscent of a sunrise in South Florida. The MLS squad, under coach Phil Neville and sporting director Chris Henderson, has more than a dozen new players, including U.S. national team defender DeAndre Yedlin.
“We think as an organization we’re in a much better place to achieve the goals and achieve the things that we want to do, and create a culture the way we want to do, as an organization,” said Neville this week.
And they will do it in pink. Inter unveiled their long-awaited new pink jersey on Saturday morning, becoming the only major American professional or college team to truly showcase the color. The bright collared shirt, dubbed the “Heartbeat Kit” thanks to a subtle M-shaped EKG graphic on the cuffs, will be paired with pink shorts and socks, creating a uniform that, although one of many monochrome offerings of the MLS, rest stands out dramatically. The all-black secondary set will be retained from last season, but the club are committed to playing in pink as much as possible.
“The good news is when you turn on the TV and see us in pink, you’ll know it’s us,” said Mike Ridley, senior vice president of brand and marketing. “If you’re going to own it, own it. I think the all pink is going to be very striking and you won’t miss it for sure.
Miami fans have longed for pink since day one. ridley said Sports Illustrated that club surveys, marketing and sales data were clear. The pink smoke emanating from the north stand of the DRV PNK stadium represents further organic evidence. And Beckham and majority owner Jorge Mas also wanted pink.
So why wait two years? Because, as it should be, it took a while for it all to finally come together. Inter wanted to use their own bespoke shade of rich pink – neither warm nor pale – and Adidas were unable to replicate the original color in time for the 2020 season. The light pink shorts that Inter wore a few times that year appeared white on the pitch. Meanwhile, the league’s two-year kit cycle meant the club had to wait until 2022 for a new light-coloured kit. Ridley, who has been at Inter since January 2020, started working with colleagues on the new pink uniform a few months later. They saw the final product in December 2021 and teased its unveiling with “It’s Pink” billboards in South Florida. This time the club would deliver.
“It was always very clear that Jorge and David said they wanted a pink jersey. But they wanted our pink… so this was actually the first opportunity to bring our pink jersey, our pink, onto the pitch. Ridley explained.
“It took two years to bring it to market, which I understand can be frustrating. But I think it’s an honor for our property and for the fans that we’re going to make it happen. We will now own the pink,” continued Ridley, a former Cayman Islands international who is an avid collector of jerseys. “It’s symbolic. It’s our first pink shirt, and we’re going to go all pink and it’s a new season. The magic with any football shirt is that when you get the new shirt, everything is possible again, so with the Heartbeat Kit everything is possible again.
The club are prepared for significant domestic and global interest in the kit, which also features a small duplicate of a tattoo on Beckham’s chest: the slogan ‘Libertad Para Soñar’, which means ‘Freedom to Dream’. Thanks to the reputation and fame of Beckham and Miami, Inter will almost certainly become the most prominent pink team in the world. Pink is extremely rare in sports, and in the United States it is mostly seen in breast cancer awareness campaigns. Generally absent from flags and traditional heraldry, pink was an uncommon organizational identifier even before some associated it with gender. So it never really made the transition to athletics.
The football team most often associated with the color, Palermo, languishes in Italy’s Serie C. Others, like Japan’s Cerezo Osaka, Peru’s Sport Boys and Bermuda’s national teams, are not well known outside of their home countries. Pink has been featured on away or alternate kits by the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Everton, Leicester City and Juventus (where it was an original club colour), but never for long. And that was never their mark.
Beyond charitable works and brief campaigns, holidays or promotions, pink is a rarity in American sports. Penn State, Syracuse and North Dakota identified with the color in the 1800s, and the Nittany Lions now wear it occasionally as a throwback. It has appeared quite a bit in American football, most notably with Forward Madison of USL League One, which uses pink as a secondary hue. The Portland Timbers have just released a pale pink away jersey adorned with roses, and St. Louis City, which enters MLS next year, sports a bright reddish pink in its logo.
But Miami has always been the likeliest home for the first American team to go all-in pink. The art deco architecture and design, the pink flamingos, the sunsets, the outfits of Sonny Crockett in miami vice– it’s the first American city that almost everyone would associate with color. The Miami Heat have worn pink substitutes before, and now Inter are taking the next step.
“It’s rooted in Miami. It would be hard for other teams to try to own pink, you know? Pink is Miami, and it makes sense that we do,” Ridley said.
Pink is Miami, and after two years, pink represents Inter’s chance to fulfill their potential. It’s a statement. It reflects a key moment in the transition and the club’s desire to address previous shortcomings and take bold steps. It was evident when Neville addressed Miami’s roster overhaul this week.
“We [developed] a real understanding of what it takes to succeed in this league, and we had to take a risk. Me and Chris knew it well in the  season, we knew we had to make some big changes,” Neville said. “We had to send out a loud, strong statement. Why? Because the first two years of this franchise weren’t good enough, not good enough. Was not acceptable from top to bottom. So we had to make major changes to get what we wanted. …So it was a great learning experience last year, even back when we were going [multiple games] without a win, I always knew where we wanted to take the team.
More football coverage: