Lionel Messi's MLS Deal: How Apple & Adidas Fuelled the move
Uncover how Messi, Apple, and Adidas are changing the game with a landmark deal that redefines the intersection of football and business.
Lionel Messi, the world-renowned Argentine footballer, has made headlines with his recent decision to join Inter Miami, a Major League Soccer (MLS) club. This significant move marks a new chapter in his illustrious career, a chapter that extends beyond just playing football. Messi's move to MLS is not just about soccer, but also about business, with key collaborations with tech giant Apple and sportswear brand Adidas playing a significant role in the deal.
In 2022, Apple and MLS had forged a groundbreaking agreement allowing Apple to offer streaming of all league matches on a global scale for 10 years in exchange for at least $250 million per season. As part of Messi's deal, MLS and Apple have offered him a share of the profits generated by new subscribers to the MLS Season Pass streaming service on Apple TV. In parallel, Apple TV+ announced a four-episode documentary series on Messi that will focus on his FIFA World Cup run, amplifying his global presence and attraction to the MLS Season Pass.
Adidas, a long-term sponsor of Messi and a major sponsor of MLS, has also joined the fray, offering to share with Messi a portion of the profits derived from his arrival in the MLS in merchandise sales.
Interestingly, Messi is set to acquire more than one-third of Inter Miami, following a route similar to that of David Beckham, who joined the league as an owner during his playing days. The deal reportedly includes profit sharing with Apple and Adidas, alongside Messi's playing contract, and the option to purchase a minority stake in the club, which is partially owned and operated by Beckham.
Messi's choice of Miami over a return to FC Barcelona or a lucrative offer from the Saudi League sheds light on his motivations. In an interview, Messi revealed that he prioritised control over his future over monetary considerations, stating, "If it had been a matter of money, I'd have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money". He further highlighted his strong bond with Barcelona but also the wish not to burden the club, "I didn’t want to be responsible for them to sell players or reduce salaries. I was tired".
Messi expressed mixed feelings about his time at Paris Saint-Germain, stating, "I'm ending my career in Paris with mixed sensations. The truth is that the first year was very difficult… but they are behind me"3. With this move, Messi turns a new page, entering a new league and simultaneously delving deeper into the business side of the sport.