Lionel Messi crowned Time’s Athlete of the Year for 2023

Following his eighth Ballon d’Or victory, Lionel Messi, the renowned captain of Argentina, has been recognized as Time magazine’s Athlete of the Year for 2023. This is an incredible accomplishment. owing to his transfer to Inter Miami, he had a significant influence in raising the profile of football in the United States, so his influence went beyond the field.

Messi was a major factor in Argentina’s historic victory over the reigning champions France in the World Cup final last December, which marked their first championship in 36 years. After departing Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year, the 36-year-old turned down multiple lucrative offers to return to Barcelona and a move to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in favor of joining Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.

Reflecting on his decision, Messi shared, “The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” as conveyed to Time.

Messi made an instant impact upon joining Inter Miami. In seven League Cup appearances, he scored ten goals, helping the team win a competition that pitted MLS and Mexican teams against one another. Outside of the field, Messi’s presence had a big off-field impact.

Fans eagerly bought his official pink Inter Miami shirt, and searches for match dates and tickets spiked. The effects extended beyond fan interest alone.

According to research firm Antenna, ticket prices for Inter Miami games skyrocketed, and Apple TV saw a significant increase in subscriptions during its ten-year partnership with the MLS. Time wrote, “Messi managed to do what once seemed impossible: turning the U.S. into a soccer country.”

Messi joins the ranks of previous winners, which also includes LeBron James, Simone Biles, and the US women’s soccer team, with this esteemed honor. In 2022, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees won the trophy.

Source: ESPN

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