A rich, foreign business man applied for a visa to come-and-go in the United States. Is that news? Not really. It’s closer to common sense than news. Who wouldn’t want to expand their horizons in a country that’s produced both Bobby Brown and Michael McDonald? If that businessman is an active athlete, though,? We might have legitimately relevant news.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that somebody like Zlatan Ibrahimovic went to the U.S. embassy in Paris and applied for a visa. Actually, let’s get rid of the hypothetical part. According to Swedish outlet Sport Bladet, Ibrahimovic spent 35-40 minutes at that embassy on March 19, reportedly tending to an application that would allow him to stay indefinitely in the United States. Combine that nugget with a Paris Saint-Germain contract that expires at the end of next season (June 2016) and people are already doing the “Zlatan to MLS, baby” math.
That math includes potentially huge spenders in New York City FC. It includes a Galaxy team that has a aging focal point in Robbie Keane. It includes new franchises coming in Los Angeles and (maybe) Miami, both of which are expected to spend big. For what would be the highest profile Major League Soccer signing since Thierry Henry, there’s no shortage of potential landing spots.
Particularly for those living in MLS markets, the equation is irresistible. The prospect of seeing a player like Ibrahimovic play live? Multiple times per season? And if you’re lucky enough to support the team that lands him, 17-or-more times each year? How often does a player with that type of brand land in MLS?
But consider the implications of that brand, particularly as it affects his life off the field. More business pursuits. More promotional responsibilities. A closer relationship with Nike, and perhaps other U.S.-based sponsors. And with the increased revenue of that U.S.-exploiting empire, the ability to maintain his residences in Paris, Milan, and Sweden (I really have no idea how many places the Ibrahimovićs live these days).
The U.S. has a lot to offer beyond soccer. In fact, only one of the most attractive aspects of the States has anything to do with soccer. Some people just like the idea of living in a place like New York, or Miami, or Los Angeles (though spoiler alert: Los Angeles is horrible). If you don’t actually have to work while living there? Even better! Bring the family, raise the kids, and be part of a lifestyle that’s still envied the world over.
All of which may be motivating Ibrahimovic’s quest for a visa. He may also be angling for a final soccer payday once his contract’s up in Paris. Who knows? All this news out of Sweden tells us is that Zlatan’s interested in a future with the United States. Whether that future is on the field, we can only hope.