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Before the actual soccer matches of this year’s World Cup, Nike released a super fun and inventive—and long, at almost 4.5 minutes—commercial, celebrating the sport, the athletes, and the fans. “Footballverse” imagines a group of scientists who, wanting to find out who is the best soccer player, press some buttons and magically transport a dozen soccer stars to their secret Swiss lab, which has been hastily transformed into a makeshift soccer field. The greats from past and present include Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr., Edgar Davids, Kevin De Bruyne, Kylian Mbappé, Leah Williamson, Phil Foden, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Nazário, Sam Kerr, Shane Kluivert, and Virgil van Dijk, as well as some cartoons (who are kicked off the field by the referee). In the ad, they compete against one another, showing off moves—and, in the case of Ronaldo Nazario, his famously strange haircut—in a joyful display that can bring even the sports-allergic into wanting to be part of this game. The ad ends on an inspiring note (or depressing, maybe, if you’re one of today’s players)—the camera landing on the silhouettes of not yet identified athletes, over which is written the words “You’re Up.” Of course, watching “Footballverse” after the conclusion of this year’s games makes it impossible not to notice one athlete who is  missing from the commercial: Lionel Messi, the legendary Argentinian soccer player who finally won his first World Cup in 2022—his World Cup photos are the most liked posts on Instagram ever—and who said that this would be his last time competing. Messi is represented by adidas.

Sources: Natalie Venegas, “Nike’s Wildly Fun World Cup Ad Digitally Unites Soccer Legends to Determine Who’s Best,” Adweek, November 16, 2022; Sam Jarden, “Nike World Cup Commercial 2022: Inside ‘Footballverse’ Ad Starring Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Morgan and More,” The Sporting News, November 24, 2022; Diksha Madhok, “Lionel Messi’s World Cup Photos Are Most-Liked Instagram Post Ever,” CNN, December 21, 2022