Lionel Messi has signed a deal worth more than $20 million to promote digital fan token company Socios.com, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters on Tuesday.
Messi becomes the latest global sports personality to enter the crypto world after NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA star LeBron James and the deal is part of a growing wave of tie-ups between the companies of cryptography and football.
Paris St Germain and Argentina striker Messi, whose move from Barcelona in August included a cryptocurrency payment, will be involved in an advertising and promotion campaign for Socios as part of the Cup preparations Qatar World Cup, which starts in November.
The ‘ambassador’ deal for Messi does not include crypto payments and is a three-year deal, the source says.
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Socios have signed deals, including creating tokens, for over 130 sports organisations, including a number of top football clubs such as PSG, Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City.
Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that allows holders to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs.
Tokens are increasingly seen by clubs as a source of new revenue, but have been criticized by some supporter groups who see their introduction as a superficial involvement that adds to the already rising costs of tracking their teams.
Last year, Brady took an undisclosed stake in crypto exchange FTX Trading Ltd and became an ambassador for the company.
In January, James announced a multi-year partnership with Crypto.com, a company that recently signed a sponsorship deal with world football governing body FIFA.