Lionel Messi has agreed to promote digital fan token firm Socios.com for more than $20 million, a source close to the arrangement told Reuters on Tuesday.
Following NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA star LeBron James, Messi is the latest global sports figure to enter the crypto realm, and the arrangement is part of a growing wave of collaborations between crypto enterprises and soccer.
Socios announced in a news release that Argentina forwards Messi, whose August transfer from Barcelona included a cryptocurrency payment, will be involved in a media and promotion campaign for Socios in the run-up to the Qatar World Cup, which begins in November.
According to the source, Messi’s ‘ambassador’ contract is for three years and does not contain cryptocurrency payments.
Over 130 sporting organizations, including PSG, Barcelona, Juventus, and Manchester City, have struck arrangements with Socios, including the creation of tokens.
Fan tokens are a sort of cryptocurrency that allows holders to vote on relatively minor club decisions.
“Fans deserve to be recognised for their support. They deserve opportunities to influence the teams they love,” Messi said in the statement.
The tokens are increasingly considered a source of additional revenue by clubs, but they have been criticized by some supporters groups, who perceive their introduction as a form of superficial engagement that adds to the already rising costs of supporting their teams.
“Socios.com exists to enhance the fan experience, to enable fans to be more. I’m proud to join Socios.com’s mission to create a more connected and rewarding future for fans around the world.”