The impact of Lionel Messi’s landmark move to Inter Miami has been laid bare after the club was awarded special dispensation for a third-kit by MLS. The Herons were handed the rare opportunity to produce a second change strip after sales of the team’s jerseys topped the 100,000 mark.
The sensational arrival of the Argentine superstar stateside was accompanied with an unprecedented response by the American public during 2023. Not only was Messi afforded a reception often reserved for rock stars across the country during away trips with his new club, but jerseys bearing his name sold in staggering numbers.
Shirts adorned with the World Cup winner’s iconic No.10 fast became a must-have fashion item in the US as fans and A-Listers alike turned out in their droves to watch the legendary forward. During his first few months at DRV PNK Stadium, household names including Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and LeBron James witnessed him in action.
Now, the incredible effects of ‘Messi mania’ are quickly becoming clear, with MLS having granted Inter Miami permissions to produce a special new strip for 2024. According to Footy Headlines, the kit will pay homage to NFL team the Miami Dolphins in terms of its colour scheme.
This potential nod to the iconic two-time Super Bowl winners could well prove a crossover hit for the David Beckham-owned MLS franchise. Fellow MLS teams LAFC, LA Galaxy, Kansas City and Portland Timbers will also be afforded the privellege of having a third-kit next term.
The Dolphins famously play in turquoise, alongside orange and white piping – a stark departure from Vice City’s usual pale pink strip. Still, a kit which pays more than a subtle tribute to another true Floridan sporting institution could have appeal both locally and internationally.
The achievement of selling in excess of 100,000 jerseys demonstrates the cultural impact of Messi’s move to the US in the space of less than six months. In fact, sales of the Herons’ famous pale-pink shirts set new records as they outstripped that of Tom Brady jerseys upon his switch tothe Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
Moreover, Tor Southard, the senior director of Adidas’ football section, also informed the New York Times that orders reached the 500,000 mark in the aftermath of Messi’s announcement of his move to Miami in the summer. This figure is higher than that achieved by Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Arsenal in the same period.
On top of this, Miami shirts also struck a chord with consumers from a fashion perspective with Vogue Magazine including the jerseys among the top must-have items of the year. They acknowledged that the ongoing clamour to own jerseys bearing Messi’s name demonstrates his unique star power.
Explaining their choice, Vogue said: “Immediately following the Messi announcement, the generic Inter Miami jersey, in an unexpected shade of un-Barbie pink, sold out, giving rise to a rich bootleg industry. Now, nearly five months later, the official Messi jersey, sporting his number 10, remains wait-listed in most sizes on the Adidas website.”