This op-ed was originally published in the The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Lionel Messi is a living soccer legend, and the recent announcement of him leaving one of the world’s top clubs to join U.S.-based Inter Miami has sparked a revolution among soccer fans. (I’m one of them.)
As one of history's most influential and successful players, Messi’s signing has turned Inter Miami—a currently last-place expansion team that has never had a winning season—into a magnet for supporters and spectators. Demand for tickets to the team's scheduled matches across North America has skyrocketed, leading to a significant increase in prices. Inter Miami’s Instagram account, meanwhile, has gained over a million followers, while Messi’s former team (Paris Saint-Germain) lost a million.
The announcement of Messi joining Inter Miami caused a significant surge in ticket prices, with the get-in price jumping from $29 to $477 and tickets now averaging over $2,600 on the secondary market. This demonstrates the subjective nature of a good or service's value, determined by individual preferences. Fans are willing to pay more to witness Inter Miami matches because one of the greatest footballers of all time enhances the experience, adding excitement and uniqueness to the scheduled 90 minutes of soccer.
Similarly, an Argentina jersey typically costs around $80, but when signed by Messi, its value exponentially increases. Organizations like "Cruzar la Línea" demonstrate this through auctions, where a Messi-signed jersey recently fetched thousands of dollars. "Cruzar la Línea" is an institution dedicated to leveraging sports as a catalyst for social change, particularly in improving the lives of underprivileged teenagers in Argentina. And it is working.
The subjective theory of value suggests that the value of something is determined by individual preferences and subjective judgments. When it comes to seeing Messi play in a Miami Inter match, the prices of the tickets will vary based on the perceived value that individuals place on the experience. Some may be willing to pay a high price because they highly value the opportunity to see Messi, while others may not be as interested and therefore not willing to pay as much. Ultimately, ticket prices will be influenced by the supply and demand dynamics in the market, as well as the subjective valuations of potential attendees.
Despite being worth an estimated $600 million and having the potential to earn higher salaries elsewhere, Messi chose the United States as his (likely) final career destination and a new place to live with his family. His decision was influenced by personal and professional factors.
In places like Messi's Argentina, on the other hand, bureaucracy poses significant challenges for entrepreneurs. Opening a company involves navigating complex and time-consuming administrative procedures, including obtaining permits, registering with government agencies, complying with tax regulations, and fulfilling legal obligations.
In collaboration with Florida International University and think tank partners, Atlas Network recently published the Index of Bureaucracy in Latin America. This index measures the burden on small businesses in eleven countries due to government regulations. As the report outlines, bureaucracy hampers productive activities and limits opportunities for individuals, meaning that governments should prioritize regulatory streamlining, updates, and reforms to empower individuals, promote prosperity, and alleviate poverty.
Just as talents like “Leo” excel in soccer, countless individuals in various fields are waiting to unleash their extraordinary abilities. By advocating for bureaucracy reduction, we can empower individuals and organizations to thrive, innovate, and contribute to society.
Let’s use the Inter Miami example as a viable case study in free-market prosperity. Rather than relying on the government to give us answers, Americans need to grasp the valuable intersection of supply and demand—the pillars of our market economy. Learn the right lessons, and a win for American soccer can be applied as a match-winner everywhere else too.