Following Argentina’s win at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, newborn children named Lionel and Lionela increased by 700% in star player Lionel Messi’s home province of Sante Fe this December, local newspaper La Capital reported, citing the region’s civil registry.
Before October, the names Lionel and Lionela registered at about six per month, but there were 32 new registrations in October and November just weeks before the start of the Qatar World Cup.
After Argentina’s epic win over France, there were reportedly 49 new submissions for the names by Dec. 31, including 22 from Messi’s hometown of Rosario in the province.
One woman who named her child Lionel went into labor right as the World Cup final started, but she only left for the hospital after making sure Argentina had won, Spanish-language news site Infobae reports.
“I started feeling contractions at 12:03 p.m., as soon as the game started,” the new mother said. “I spent the whole match with discomfort and once it was over we left for the hospital”.
The View From The United States
Since joining the Milwaukee Bucks, National Basketball Association (NBA) star Giannis Antetokounmpo has inspired many expecting parents. According to USA Today, there were fewer than five newborns in the U.S. named Giannis in 2015. By 2018, there were at least 61, with at least five babies hailing from Wisconsin.
Soccer news site Tribuna reported that Messi was named after Lionel Richie because Messi’s mother is a fan of the American singer.
Richie reportedly reached out to Messi after Argentina’s underwhelming performance at the 2016 Copa Americana. Recalling his conversation, Richie told reporters: “He’s going to be just fine. He’s a winner obviously. I’m sure he’s down right now but he’s a Lionel, he can’t go wrong.”