It's no secret: soccer is currently the fastest growing sport in the United States. Maybe the MLS still has some catching up to do, but there's no doubt that after the USA's recent success in the 2022 World Cup (successful as far as American soccer goes, at least) and with the 2026 World Cup being held all across North America, with one lucky United States city playing host to the World Cup Final, there's no doubt that everyday more and more Americans are tuning into this great game that's so beloved by billions across the globe.
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Well, here we are, witnessing another massive breakthrough for USA soccer, as it was announced today, June 7th, that the greatest soccer player of all time, World Cup champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, seven-time recipient of the prestigious Ballon d'Or, all-time goals leader in La Liga history, Lionel Messi, will be calling Miami home.
With Messi's contract with Paris Saint-Germain expiring at the end of the month, the sweepstakes for the superstar was on. Inter Miami joined the race, and beat out the likes of Barcelona and Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
Al Hilal reportedly offered Messi €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion USD) according to Forbes.
Messi to Inter Miami rumors started swirling after he purchased a home in Miami in 2021.
The last time the MLS landed a European superstar of this caliber was back in 2007 when David Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Reports surfaced stating that the MLS had offered Messi a very tempting deal, which included Apple offering a share of revenue generated by new subscribers to MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. Adidas also jumped in on the deal, offering a profit-sharing agreement.
While the presence of Leo Messi will certainly help the MLS, I personally believe that the league also shot themselves in the foot when they entered into this silly 10 year Apple TV+ exclusivity agreement. Just as I was starting to really enjoy watching NYCFC games on YES Network a few short years ago, the MLS entered into an agreement with Apple, and now you must be a subscriber in order to watch games.
The deal has proven to be a dumpster fire so far for the league. Just as Americans were finally starting to pay attention to the game, our domestic league hid themselves behind a paywall that not many people are onboard with.
The English Premier League continues to be the most popular soccer league in the United States. I'm sure the massive difference talent-wise plays a big role in the lopsided numbers, but at least us Americans can catch EP games every now and then on cable television, unlike the MLS. Beggars can't be choosers!