‘Messi effect’ jolts US Major League Soccer

Lazy eyes listen


Lionel Messi’s decision to transfer his talents to the United States has sparked so much fan interest that his new squad has gone from an insignificant expansion club to a social media behemoth in a single day.

Inter Miami CF, the Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise David Beckham launched in 2018, had amassed a 1 million-fan Instagram following in its five years of operation. Inter Miami had 5.7 million followers on Instagram just 24 hours after the announcement that Messi will join the squad this summer rather than return to FC Barcelona or accept a lucrative offer to play in Saudi Arabia.

In fact, the young Miami franchise, which currently sits at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference rankings, now has a larger Instagram following than any team in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, or the National Hockey League. Only a few NBA clubs, led by the Golden State Warriors, have a larger following on Instagram.

“It’s nothing but a win, whichever way you look at it, for Miami, the growth of the sport in America, MLS, and beyond,” ESPN analyst Luis Miguel Echegaray said on Wednesday. Messi will also benefit from the agreement, as his record MLS contract includes a percentage of revenue from gear sales and the league’s streaming service on Apple TV.

Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) expires on June 30, and supporters are already clamoring for tickets to his debut game in the United States. His debut could come as soon as July 21, when Inter Miami hosts LigaMX’s Cruz Azul. Before Messi’s statement, the cheapest ticket for the game was $29 on TickPick. Following the announcement, the price of the identical ticket jumped to $698 due to high demand. The cheapest ticket for the team’s road encounter against the New York Red Bulls on August 26 increased from $30 to $428.

TicketSmarter, another ticket broker, informed USA Today that it sold roughly 2,000 Inter Miami tickets on Wednesday, up from fewer than 50 the day before. “This is a huge acquisition for Inter Miami CF and really for the MLS as a whole,” stated TicketSmarter CEO Jeff Goodman. “It raises the league’s and international interest in MLS around the world.”

Messi, 35, reportedly got a contract offer from Saudi Arabia for more than $650 million. He is probably the sport’s biggest star, having just led Argentina to the World Cup title in December.