Inter Miami Announces China Tour: Exhibition Matches Against Qingdao Hainiu and Chengdu Rongcheng

Inter Miami, the Major League Soccer team co-owned by David Beckham and Lionel Messi, has announced that they will be playing two exhibition matches in China next month. The team, which failed to make it to the MLS playoffs, will be facing Chinese Super League teams Qingdao Hainiu and Chengdu Rongcheng on November 5 and November 8 respectively. The stadiums for these matches have a capacity of 50,000 to 60,000 fans.

Inter Miami was eliminated from playoff

The timing of these friendly matches is significant as they coincide with the first round of the MLS playoffs. Inter Miami was eliminated from playoff contention earlier this month, giving them the opportunity to participate in the China tour.

Inter Miami’s official announcement did not mention Lionel Messi or any other player, but it is expected that Messi, along with other star players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, will be part of the team if they are physically able to travel. Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, has previously visited China multiple times for club and international matches. His appearances have always attracted a massive following, with tickets selling out quickly.

Messi’s most recent trip to China was in June, shortly after he joined Inter Miami. He represented Argentina in a match against Australia in Beijing, scoring a goal within the first minute. During this match, Messi was surprised by a fan who managed to get onto the field and ask for a hug.

National team’s lack of global success

China has a strong passion for soccer, despite the men’s national team’s lack of global success. The nation’s women’s team reached the final of the World Cup in 1999, narrowly losing to the United States. Messi’s popularity in China, along with his Olympic gold medal win in Beijing in 2008, has contributed to his immense following in the country.

This tour will be Inter Miami’s first international venture since its inception four years ago. The team recently won the Leagues Cup, coinciding with Messi’s arrival in July. While the team has not yet revealed television or ticket information for the China matches, Messi’s previous appearances in the country have generated substantial ticket revenue. In fact, the two matches on this tour are anticipated to generate over $20 million in ticket sales alone.

Inter Miami’s global reach has been impactful, as evidenced by the success of Messi’s jersey sales. Which became the top-selling jersey in the MLS in 2023. The team plans to increase prices significantly for the 2024 season. Indicating their confidence in the popularity and appeal of the club.

Opportunity to expand the club’s global presence

Xavier Asensi, Inter Miami’s chief business officer, expressed excitement about the opportunity to expand the club’s global presence and engage with fans from different parts of the world. Asensi stated that this tour is a special opportunity to showcase the team’s passion and connect with new audiences. He anticipates that this adventure will be the start of many more international tours in the future.

While Inter Miami wraps up their MLS season with matches against Charlotte this week. It is unlikely that Messi will appear in these games due to his commitment to the Argentina national team.  The team has not yet announced any other international tours for 2024. But it is expected that they will continue to capitalize on Messi’s worldwide popularity. Inter Miami’s ability to attract global audiences and generate significant revenue through their tours exemplifies their ambition and potential for success in future seasons.