Photo via Wikipedia Commons
International soccer star David Villa will be a lead investor in Queensboro FC, a professional men's squad that begins play in 2021.

Queens will soon have its own professional men’s soccer team.

The United Soccer League announced Tuesday that it awarded a franchise to the Queensboro Football Club starting in 2021, when the team will play in the USL Championship, the top tier of the league which is one level below Major League Soccer.

“The deep, diverse fanbase here in Queens has long desired a professional soccer team to call our own,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “The creation of the QBFC is a major milestone that benefits this borough of 2.4 million residents. As we first envisioned several years ago on elevating professional soccer here in Queens, the QBFC will further cement the borough’s reputation and standing as a global destination. Our families and communities are thrilled, for The World’s Game now has a home in The World’s Borough.”

One of the international soccer’s biggest stars, David Villa, is the lead investor in Queensboro FC, which will play most of its home games at York College in Jamaica, as well as a few games at Citi Field. Villa is a World Cup champion and all-time leading Spanish national team goal scorer who starred with Barcelona and Real Madrid at club level before joining the New York City Football Club that plays at Yankee Stadium.

“I lived and played in New York for four years. I know what a special place Queens is,” Villa said. “I love the cultures, the food, the people and their passion for life and, of course, soccer. There is no other place like it in the world. It’s a dream to help build this football club in Queens, and I couldn’t choose a better location.”

The club plans to operate a youth academy which Villa will work closely with. Villa is close friends with City Councilman Francisco Moya who has advocated for a professional soccer team in the borough for years.

“As a passionate soccer fan who has also played my entire life, I know how the game gives back,” Moya said. “Soccer teaches so many great lifelong lessons, the value of teamwork, hard work and perseverance, to name a few. These are qualities that embody the Queens community and having a team of our own is very exciting.”

QBFC will look to build its foundation with local talent and partner with local businesses and officials to promote the diverse culture and identity of the borough. QBFC’s ownership group is led by asset manager Jonathan Krane, founder and CEO of KraneShares.

“We are excited to bring a USL Championship club to Queens,” Krane said. “Queens has a large, passionate and knowledgeable community of soccer supporters and players from all over the world and deserves a club to call its own. We look forward to working closely with the community to establish Queensboro FC as not just a leading organization in professional soccer but also as a proud ambassador of Queens. Together we will accomplish great things on and off the pitch.”

United Soccer League CEO Alec Papadakis is thrilled to bring a professional soccer franchise to Queens.

“Soccer is second nature to many who call this borough home, and with a strong sense of community in the most culturally diverse area in the world, a USL Championship club in Queens is the perfect fit,” Papadakis said.

For Moya, landing Queensboro FC truly is a dream come true.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t dreaming about a pro football team coming to Queens. Clearly I’m not the only one,” Moya said. “Every patch of grass across this borough has someone dribbling a ball across it or wishing they were. This is what unites us — there are over 100 languages spoken here but we all speak soccer. It’s the world’s game and it’s about time it came to the world’s borough.”

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