Lionel Messi has inked a $20 million deal with the crypto firm Socios to become their brand ambassador ahead of Qatar World Cup.
Messi becomes the latest global sports personality to enter the world of crypto following the likes of Tom Brady and LeBron James. The deal is part of a growing wave of tie-ups between crypto firms and football.
The ‘ambassador’ role for Messi does not include crypto payments as part of the three-year agreement.
Socios has been fiercely active in the footballing world signing and creating tokens, for over 130 sports organizations including a number of top football clubs such as PSG, Barcelona, Juventus, and Manchester City.
Fan tokens, as found on Socios, are a type of cryptocurrency that allows the holders to vote on minor decisions related to the clubs of their choosing.
The tokens are increasingly seen by clubs as a new source of revenue but have been criticized by some supporters groups who see their introduction as superficial participation that adds to the already growing costs of following their teams.
The company’s official website describes fan tokens as a “finite digital asset minted in limited numbers with ownership logged in a secure ledger on the Ethereum blockchain.”
Ownership of a fan token grants the buyer “voting rights to influence team decisions and other perks,” though the voting power has been restricted to minor choices, such as the design of the team bus or picking the club’s warm-up music.
Messi’s PSG is one of the European soccer teams already on the Socios.com exchange.
A fan token for the French giants is worth 46.24 CHZ, or about $13.86 based on the prices at the time of publishing. Messi’s move from Barcelona to PSG in August also included cryptocurrency payments.
Crypto.com, another crypto trading website, recently signed a sponsorship deal with football governing body FIFA for the upcoming world cup.