Home Football Lionel Messi’s Move to Inter Miami: A Potential Revolution in American Football

Lionel Messi’s Move to Inter Miami: A Potential Revolution in American Football

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American football revolution

In 2018, when David Beckham’s new Major League Soccer franchise was established, he expressed the need for a star in Miami. Now, five years later, Beckham and his co-owners, the Mas brothers, have secured the services of Lionel Messi, arguable the greatest player of all time and a World Cup winner. Messi’s arrival has the potential to act as a catalyst, propelling the sport of football in the United States forward in the three years leading up to the co-hosting of the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

Notably, the USA will also host the 2024 Copa America, presenting an opportunity for Messi to not only play his final club game in the States but also potentially participate in his last major international tournament. These moments mark a significant juncture in Messi’s illustrious career, as he approaches the age of 36 when he will be eligible to debut for Miami. However, they also hold immense significance for football in the USA.

Messi’s move to Inter Miami draws parallels to the transfers of Beckham, who joined LA Galaxy in 2007, and Pele, who was attracted to the American soccer scene with New York Cosmos in the 1970s. The success of Messi’s impact in the US will depend on whether it goes beyond the surface level. Will the enthusiasm persist after his departure, or will his magic leave a lasting impression, strengthening domestic football nationwide?

Presently, North American professional men’s sports are primarily dominated by the “Big Four” leagues: NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL. MLS is not always taken as seriously and often receives limited coverage in general sports discussions. However, since Messi’s announcement, it has consistently featured as a leading story. The presence of the biggest name in world sports, who happens to be a soccer player, cannot be ignored.

The anticipation surrounding Messi’s arrival marks the beginning of his American journey, where his impact on the game will be witnessed in real-time. Inter Miami’s social media following has already skyrocketed beyond that of many NHL, MLB, and NFL teams. Ticket sales for their upcoming games have seen a staggering 28-fold increase since the announcement, with prices for Messi’s potential debut exceeding those of the NBA Finals in Miami.

While Messi’s tenure in MLS will undoubtedly benefit the league, it does not automatically guarantee the same for soccer in America. Much will depend on whether the excitement and interest trickle down to grassroots levels. This can be challenging in a system where there is little connection between leagues at different levels across the country, including the lack of continuity from NASL to MLS and no direct link between MLS and the USL, another professional soccer league in the nation. The absence of promotion and relegation further complicates the landscape, although it temporarily favors Miami, who currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

For Messi’s impact to extend beyond the league, MLS may need to adopt a more open approach and consider collaborating with other soccer organizations that operate parallel to or below it. This move could prove advantageous. While MLS has established more stable foundations compared to previous professional soccer leagues and prioritizes self-preservation, it may now be time to loosen some restrictions, encouraged by Messi’s arrival.

The league has already displayed flexibility in attracting Messi, thanks to a combination of factors such as a new broadcast deal with Apple TV, a shared kit supplier in Adidas, and Beckham’s ownership of a club in Miami, where Messi himself owns property. It is fitting that Beckham, whose arrival as a player in 2007 revolutionized the game, is now the owner bringing Messi to MLS. Beckham’s signing led to the creation of the “designated player rule,” also known as the Beckham rule, which permits clubs to exceed the salary cap for up to three players.

Messi’s arrival will push the boundaries of what MLS and its partners can offer a player, similar to the groundbreaking deal Michael Jordan signed with Nike in 1984. Alongside deals with Adidas and Apple for a documentary series, there are rumors of Messi potentially obtaining a club ownership stake and receiving a percentage of sign-ups to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.

To compete with the lucrative offers in Saudi Arabia, MLS had to think outside the box. If Messi’s presence is to transcend the league and impact American soccer as a whole, MLS may have to consider ventures beyond its own confines. However, expecting one player to single-handedly transform the sporting landscape of such a vast and diverse region is an impossible task. Soccer is not unpopular in the United States, but it lacks the same fervor and following on a domestic level as it does in most parts of the world.

Fans in the US may passionately support the national team or European and Mexican clubs, but the structure of American club soccer does not generate the same mass intrigue or devotion. Pele and Beckham laid the groundwork, but even they couldn’t convert a nation of American football fans into soccer enthusiasts. Messi’s arrival will undoubtedly bring higher attendances, global attention, and increased awareness to MLS. However, for lasting effects on American soccer, a foundation must be built at the local level, leveraging this momentous and magical move.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about American football revolution

Q: Can Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami revolutionize football in the US?

A: Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami has the potential to revolutionize football in the US. His presence can propel Major League Soccer (MLS) to new heights, increase global attention, and attract higher attendances. However, the long-term impact on American soccer will depend on factors like grassroots development, building at the local level, and bridging the gap between different soccer leagues in the country.

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