Lionel Messi has been honored as Time’s Athlete of the Year for 2023, marking his outstanding achievements and impact in the sporting world. The acclaimed footballer secured his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or earlier in the year and notably contributed to Argentina’s historic World Cup victory, ending a 36-year title drought. Messi’s decision to join Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami, despite various enticing offers, further elevated his profile, making a significant impact both on and off the pitch.
Choosing Inter Miami over potential returns to Barcelona or a lucrative move to Saudi side Al-Hilal, Messi made an immediate impact in the U.S. He played a pivotal role in Inter Miami’s triumph in the Leagues Cup, scoring 10 goals in seven appearances. His arrival not only boosted the team’s performance but also generated widespread interest, leading to a surge in ticket prices for Inter Miami games and increased subscriptions to Apple TV, the MLS’s streaming partner.
Messi’s influence extended beyond the field, turning the United States into a soccer-focused nation. The recognition as Time’s Athlete of the Year solidifies Messi’s status as a global sports icon, emphasizing his prowess, decision-making, and the profound effect he has had on the sport, both domestically and internationally. Past recipients of the award include notable athletes such as Simone Biles, LeBron James, and the United States women’s soccer team, with Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees receiving the accolade in 2022.