The world of soccer is witnessing a true marathon by Lionel Messi, who embarks on an international preseason tour with Inter Miami. The Argentine maestro, the franchise's key player, will face six matches in five different countries, covering an impressive 38,126 km in flights over a period of just 20 days.
The journey began in El Salvador and passed through Dallas, where Messi played a friendly against FC Dallas. The next stop will be in Saudi Arabia, followed by Hong Kong, Japan, and finally, a return to Florida to conclude the tour with a game against Newell's Old Boys. An intense schedule that not only challenges the player's physical endurance but also raises questions about the need for so much travel in a short period.
While coach Tata Martino justifies Messi's and other stars' participation in preseason friendlies as a contractual obligation, the tour does not escape criticism, especially from environmental movements. The significant amount of carbon dioxide emitted during these long journeys is being questioned at a time when sustainability becomes a global concern.
Soccer, with its growing globalization and expansion, now finds itself confronted not only with competitive pressure but also with environmental responsibility. Inter Miami, aiming to generate $200 million in revenue in 2024, faces a dual challenge: securing victories on the international stage and dealing with the growing environmental concern regarding carbon emissions associated with these sporting marathons.
Messi's tour is more than a quest for physical preparation and team cohesion; it is a global spectacle that highlights the complexities and dilemmas faced by the contemporary sports world. While fans celebrate the opportunity to see the icon in action in different parts of the world, the shadow of environmental criticism looms over Inter Miami's spectacular journey and its stars, prompting reflection on the balance between elite sports and planet preservation.