By Razeen Gutta
The Lionel Messi effect has proven magical for Major League Soccer, with the timing of the World Cup winning captain’s move making all the difference for the USA.
“No-one at club or league level was prepared for the effect Messi’s signing would have on them,” said BBC’s Guillem Balague after a trip to the city of Miami.
Balague’s analysis of the move shows that season ticket prices have doubled for next season, while away day seats are already costing up to and beyond $1,500 (R30,000) each to watch the all-time great play.
Messi’s move to America comes ahead of next year’s Copa America event that the USA will host, with the final taking place at none other than Miami’s home ground, the Hard Rock Stadium.
The showpiece event in July will be followed by the Club World Cup in 2025 and the highly anticipated Fifa World Cup in 2026, co-hosted by Mexico and Canada alongside the USA.
Whether you call it football or soccer, the best way of promoting the sport turned out to be the arrival of its greatest ever player.
“My life was a lot quieter and less complicated before this man arrived. There is a Messi cult following here that I have never seen before,” Miami Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman told BBC.
Messi’s presence has done just as much on the pitch as it has from a celebrity standpoint off it, with Miami’s new captain leading the team to their first ever trophy with a goal in the Leagues Cup final.
The Argentine will now enjoy a six-week rest before the new season commences in 2024.
Pictured above: Lionel Messi.
Image source: @jacobsben