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Friday, February 16, 2024

Argentina’s Messi named Time’s Athlete of the Year for 2023

Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football.

Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine’s “Athlete of the Year” for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d’Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.

Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football.

Read more: Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or for best player in the world

“Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country,” Time commented, AFP reported.

The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club’s finances.

“For reasons that have been bandied around for decades… the United States, the world’s most lucrative sports market, had never fully embraced the beautiful game,” wrote TIME senior sports correspondent Sean Gregory. “Recently, however, the sport has seen impressive growth, and with the U.S. hosting three major international tournaments in the next three years. … It’s sure to attract even more fans.

Read more: Messi’s Miami fans upset with season ticket price hike

But Messi is an accelerant. With the most revered and influential athlete on the planet playing in Miami for at least the next two years, still performing at the top of his game…the U.S. is now a soccer nation. A fútbol nation.”

Those three major U.S.-hosted tournaments include the 2024 Copa America, which can be seen exclusively in the U.S. on the FOX family of networks and the FOX Sports App next summer, as well as the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup and 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.