Lionel Messi: Time Magazine’s 2023 Athlete of the Year and Architect of Soccer’s Surge in the U.S.

In a year filled with remarkable achievements, Argentine football legend Lionel Messi has been crowned Time magazine’s Athlete of the Year for 2023, capping off a stellar season where he clinched his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or. Messi’s impact extended beyond the football pitch as he orchestrated a soccer resurgence in the United States with his move to Inter Miami.

Lionel Messi played a pivotal role in leading Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years, culminating in a historic victory over defending champions France in the final last December. His exceptional contributions on the field earned him the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time, solidifying his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

In a surprising turn of events earlier this year, Messi, at the age of 36, left Paris St Germain and had a myriad of offers on the table. Despite links to his former team Barcelona and a lucrative move to Saudi side Al-Hilal, Messi opted for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. His decision to join the U.S.-based team showcased his commitment to new challenges and opportunities.

Messi wasted no time leaving an indelible mark in the U.S. soccer scene, making an instant impact at Inter Miami. Scoring an impressive 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup appearances, he played a crucial role in guiding the team to victory. Beyond the goals and victories, Messi’s arrival caused a seismic shift off the pitch, leading to a surge in searches for match dates and tickets to witness the football maestro in action.

The ripple effect of Messi’s move to Inter Miami was felt nationwide, transforming the U.S. into a soccer hub. Fans clamored for a chance to see Messi play, resulting in a surge in ticket prices for Inter Miami games. Apple TV, in its 10-year partnership with the MLS, experienced a significant uptick in subscriptions, reflecting the growing popularity of soccer catalyzed by Messi’s presence.