Lionel Messi has not spoken with MLS media in Miami since August. And an Inter Miami beat reporter is now going public with criticism toward the Ballon D’Or winner publicly for his blackout.
“The biggest stars in NFL teams, even during Super Bowl weeks, are talking to the media,” Miami Herald reporter Michelle Kaufman said in an interview with The Athletic that has now been deleted from YouTube. “In basketball during the NBA finals, the top players talk to the media. Messi just never has, and he clearly doesn’t have to.”
MLS players are required to participate in press conferences after matches. But Messi is apparently an exception. The league has made excuses, including that MLS stadium press rooms cannot hold the number of reporters who want to speak with Messi, all season.
“The local media, we have requested to have some time with [Messi], to have a press conference, to have something,” Kaufman added, according to World Soccer Talk. “Because clearly, he is one of the two biggest players in the world. He’s playing on this team. I cover this team on a day-to-day basis, and I don’t get to talk to the biggest star on the team. This does not happen in other countries.”
Kaufman also argued MLS is harmed by not having a legendary player speak about his time in the league and the stakes of the matches in which he competes.
“It’s a big void in the coverage of Leo Messi and this team that we don’t ever get his perspective on anything,” Kaufman said. “And this is a glaring example. He is about to play his biggest rival, one of the greatest rivalries in sports history, and we don’t have a single quote from Messi.
“I know that the league, the team, and everyone have to do whatever Messi says, but it’s a disservice to the fans that [they] never get his perspective on how his first season went so far. I think the fans would like to know how he feels his first season in MLS went.”
To describe the lengths to which Inter Miami has gone to protect Messi, Kaufman described that the club has even kept teammate Luis Suarez away from media. Suarez is widely known to be close with Messi and joined Inter Miami to follow the Argentine superstar.
Messi faced off with rival Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, and he and Inter Miami lost 6-0 to Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.