The impact of Lionel Messi on Inter Miami’s surge in popularity was made even clearer when fans reacted to his injury during the match against Toronto on Wednesday.
Messi, who had missed Miami’s previous two matches, returned to the lineup against the Canadian team.
However, it wasn’t the triumphant homecoming that both Messi and the fans had hoped for, as he was forced to be substituted in the 39th minute due to an injury that prevented him from continuing.
Lionel Messi appeared to be grappling with a leg issue, and he was substituted just before half-time. The reaction from the crowd was quite remarkable.
Messi’s presence at Inter Miami has undeniably elevated the club’s status and profile in the footballing world, with more fans attending matches than ever before.
If anyone had any doubts that a significant portion of the audience was there primarily to watch the former Barcelona superstar in action, those doubts would have been dispelled by the fans’ actions after he was forced to leave the game due to injury.
What did the fans do after Lionel Messi was substituted?
After Messi was forced off injured in the first half, footage of fans inside the arena has emerged online and it’s a pretty shocking sight. There’s no doubt that the 36-year-old was what a huge section of the audience was paying to see and they proved so. As Messi was substituted, hundreds of spectators could be seen heading straight for the exits, despite the game not even reaching half-time yet.
The incident serves as a stark reminder that a significant portion of the crowds attending Inter Miami games are solely there to watch Messi and nothing else. His influence on football in the United States will undoubtedly be unmatched in the years ahead. His arrival led to a significant increase in Miami’s social media following, and the fact that so many fans in attendance on Wednesday chose to leave the moment he was substituted is a testament to his superstar status.
He wasn’t the only icon that the side was forced to remove in the first half either, with Jordi Alba also going off injured. With two of the side’s biggest players now out with injuries, Miami will be hoping neither man is on the sideline for too long.