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Lionel Messi: The Catalyst for Soccer's Rising Popularity Among Celebrities.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Roger Hampel


Lionel Messi, the football legend widely acknowledged as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), is not just breaking records but also making soccer more popular in the United States. When Messi and Inter Miami CF went up against LAFC recently, it wasn't just about the game. It was a spectacle that attracted a star-studded audience, illustrating how Messi's presence is a magnet for celebrities and potentially a boon for the sport's popularity stateside.

Selena Gomez, Leo DiCaprio, and Prince Harry in Attendance

It's not every day that one sees Hollywood's A-list celebrities like Selena Gomez and Leonardo DiCaprio in the audience of a soccer match in the U.S. Add Prince Harry to the mix, and you know it's no ordinary game. The match between Inter Miami CF and LAFC saw all these stars make their way to a sold-out BMO Stadium. Selena Gomez's expression during Messi's near first-half goal is a testimony to the emotional resonance of watching the football icon live.

Soccer and Showbiz Blend Seamlessly at BMO Stadium

The magic wasn't just limited to the likes of Gomez and DiCaprio. ‘Cobra Kai’ actor Xolo Maridueña, rapper Tyga, and 'Ted Lasso' stars Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt also got to experience Messi’s brilliance up close. They joined long-standing BMO Stadium regulars and LAFC celebrity owners Will Ferrell and Magic Johnson. The collective excitement from this ensemble of high-profile attendees adds a layer of celebrity sparkle to the beautiful game, and Messi's first MLS match in LA turned out to be the catalyst.

Why the Celebrity Endorsement Matters for Soccer in the U.S.

While soccer has been growing in popularity in the United States, it still lags behind American football, basketball, and baseball in terms of audience and cultural impact. The attendance of Hollywood’s brightest stars at soccer games, inspired by Messi's presence, acts as an implicit endorsement for the sport. This kind of exposure is priceless for soccer’s growth in a market that's historically been more inclined towards other sports.

The Future Looks Bright

The coming together of stars from different walks of life to watch Messi signals a shift. Soccer is becoming not just a sport but also a cultural event that is hard to ignore. This new level of celebrity engagement has the potential to boost media coverage, merchandise sales, and most importantly, audience numbers for future games.


Lionel Messi's entry into MLS is turning out to be a game-changer in more ways than one. Not only is he showcasing his footballing genius but also attracting a new, high-profile audience to the sport. The power of Messi seems to extend beyond the soccer field, capturing the hearts of celebrities and likely contributing to the rise of soccer's popularity in the U.S.

If Messi's impact continues this trajectory, it won't be long before soccer enjoys the same kind of widespread adoration that other major American sports currently do.

Source: MLS


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