Orlando, Fla. - Orlando City SC announced today it has signed global soccer icon Kaká to a multi-year contract. The signing marks yet another historic milestone in the Club’s journey to joining Major League Soccer starting in the 2015 season.
Kaka 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. Simply put, Kaka, 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 of any athlete 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
Kaka 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 counted towards the Club’s official salary budget. Kaka joins other high-profile MLS Designated Players past and present such as England’s David Beckham (LA Galaxy), France’s Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls) and United States World Cup stars Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders F.C.) and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC).
The signing marks the next chapter in what has been a long-standing relationship between Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and Kaka. Augusto, who founded WiseUP which is an international chain of English-language schools, hired Kaka previously to serve as the company’s official spokesperson. While Augusto has since sold his majority ownership of WiseUP, his friendship with Kaka has remained strong. Further helping to solidify the agreement to join Orlando City is Kaka’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.
Kaka, whose full name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, goes by his 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 “Kaka.”
It was also announced today by Orlando City that it will loan Kaka for six months to Sao Paulo F.C., one of the top Brazilian clubs and Kaka’s hometown club. Kaka will then start play with Orlando City on January 1, 2015 in preparation for the Club’s inaugural MLS season.