The Messi Effect – How Major Soccer League changed after his Arrival
For years, soccer clubs, businesses, and even cities have pondered the secrets behind a footballing phenomenon known as the “Messi Effect.” Beyond his astounding skills with football, Lionel Messi has been an embodiment of aspiration for countless athletes and fans worldwide. His journey, his style, and his humility have inspired millions. But how does a single player not only transform a team’s performance on the pitch but also its commercial success and global popularity off it? Many have tried to decode this, only to find fragmented answers scattered across different resources. This article seeks to consolidate a comprehensive insight into the “Messi Effect”, and by understanding it, football clubs and related businesses can potentially harness some of its magic. For every soccer enthusiast, club owner, or sports marketer, here lies the blueprint of a phenomenon that has revolutionized modern football.
While Ronaldo and Benzema enjoy immense popularity, Messi’s stature as the world’s premier football icon is undeniable, especially after being the leader of Argentina to a World Cup victory in December 2022. His star power is so compelling that organizations linked to Miami, Major League Soccer, and North American football at large, eagerly sought affiliations with the Argentine prodigy. Here’s an insight into how things changes after his arrival in Inter Miami:
Ever since his official introduction to the team, the league’s social media metrics have surged. Platforms across the board are witnessing unparalleled interaction rates, underscoring the immense global influence Messi brings to MLS.
Lionel Messi’s move to Major League Soccer (MLS) showcases not just the financial prowess of the league, but also its growing influence in international football. Dubbed the “Messi Effect,” his influence is reshaping U.S. football dynamics, highlighting the sport’s escalating global commercial appeal.
Beyond social media, Lionel Messi’s presence in the MLS has triggered a significant spike in Google searches, with fans eager to see the legendary player in action.
During the opening match of the Leagues Cup, Messi’s Inter Miami took on Liga MX’s Cruz Azul. On paper, this matchup featured the underdogs: Miami had secured a mere 18 points from 22 games, placing them at the bottom of their conference and the league. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul was struggling with zero points after three matches of the Liga MX Apertura.
Ordinarily, such a matchup wouldn’t have garnered significant viewership. However, with Messi in the equation, everything changed.
In just 36 minutes on the pitch during his Inter Miami debut, Messi dazzled by scoring a last-minute free-kick against Cruz Azul, ensuring his team’s victory. This spectacular performance made it the most viewed MLS game in two decades.
The match secured a remarkable 0.8 rating and drew an astounding 1.75 million viewers on Univision. This impressive viewership hasn’t been seen since Freddy Adu’s 2004 debut on ABC, which drew 1.97 million viewers.
To put this into perspective, Messi’s debut overshadowed the initial appearances of other European football luminaries like David Beckham in 2007 on ESPN (1.5M viewers) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018 on FOX (565K viewers).
Beyond his on-field exploits, Messi’s contract with Inter Miami entails revenue-sharing agreements with global giants Adidas and Apple. These partnerships could augment his earnings significantly in the coming years:
- Adidas: A long-time Messi collaborator, Adidas is compensating him handsomely for his endorsements. They’re also rumored to be in discussions to become MLS’s official jersey supplier, which, if finalized, could see Messi benefit from the revenue.
- Apple: Securing a decade-long deal as the MLS’s exclusive streaming partner, Apple is set to chronicle Messi’s MLS journey in a documentary series. Success here might further line the star’s pockets.
The fervor surrounding Messi’s arrival is palpable. Ticket prices for his debut match skyrocketed, with a staggering 1,000% increase in the secondary market. The average ticket cost shot up from $122 to $373 even before his official announcement, as indicated by Vivid Seats.
But it’s not just about tickets. The digital sports platform, Fanatics, reported a massive surge in team merchandise sales post-Messi’s announcement, outstripping their entire sales for 2023. Messi’s jersey sales alone broke records, outperforming major moves in other sports like Ronaldo’s shift to Manchester United or LeBron James’ Lakers debut.
The “Messi Effect” is transformative. The maestro’s skill on the field captivates even the most casual viewer. His magic with the ball, scoring ethereal goals and leaving opponents spellbound, earns him even rival fans’ admiration.
Importantly, Messi’s presence in MLS is bolstering grassroots soccer. Young enthusiasts, inspired by the legend, are choosing soccer, enriching the nation’s talent pipeline. His games aren’t just matches; they’re events. Locales hosting his matches witness economic booms, and the ambiance is electric.
MLS, under Messi’s spotlight, is attracting global viewership. International soccer lovers journey to the U.S. for games, uplifting local economies. Broadcasters globally are battling for MLS broadcast rights, and the resultant lucrative contracts are enriching the league.
This ripple effect is noticed beyond soccer. The success of MLS in grabbing global eyeballs has major U.S. sports leagues like NBA and NFL contemplating international outreach and marketing revolutions.