Lionel Messi, one of the greatest stars in world soccer, not only crossed the Atlantic but also left an indelible mark on the hearts of American fans since his arrival at Inter Miami in the summer of 2023. The Messi phenomenon transcended borders, sparking an extraordinary surge in viewership for Major League Soccer (MLS) games in the United States.
In a noteworthy turn of events, “over 1 million people” tuned in to witness Messi’s magic on the field, an impressive feat that puts American soccer and college soccer as the only contenders on par with these stratospheric numbers. The Argentine’s transfer, now an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, from Paris Saint-Germain to Inter Miami wasn’t just a change of clubs but a seismic shift in the American sports landscape.
In a matter of weeks, Messi led Inter Miami to a historic victory in the Leagues Cup, adding a new chapter to the MLS record books. What might have been considered a step away from the European spotlight proved to be a colossal leap for the expansion of soccer in the United States.
The impact isn’t confined to the playing field; Messi has become a driving force in media and streaming. The surge in MLS Season Pass subscriptions and the dominance of television and streaming bets by Inter Miami are a testament to Messi’s global magnetism, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers.
Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Services at Apple, which holds a 10-year, $2.5 billion contract with the MLS, expressed the magnitude of the “Messi effect.” By providing fans with an unparalleled experience, Messi’s presence accelerated the international growth plans of the MLS, redefining expectations for the future of soccer in the United States.
In summary, the Messi phenomenon is not just a sports narrative; it is a catalyst for a soccer revolution in the United States. Messi’s presence not only captivated viewers but also solidified the MLS as a global powerhouse, ready to compete with the giants of American sports. The Messi effect transcended soccer fields to become a focal point in the evolution of the world’s most popular sport in the land of opportunities.