Soccer star Lionel Messi’s signing-on fee at Paris St Germain includes some of the French club’s cryptocurrency fan tokens, in the latest big-name endorsement of digital assets.
The Argentine, 34, left Spanish side Barcelona and signed a two-year contract with Qatari-owned Paris St Germain (PSG), with an option for a third year, on Tuesday.
PSG said on Thursday the tokens were included in his “welcome package,” which media reports have estimated at 25 to 30 million euros ($39 million to $47 million).
The club did not disclose the proportion of tokens in the package, but said the amount was “significant”.
Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that allow holders to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs.
🔴🔵New season, new signings, new era & you can be there to witness the start of it all.
WIN 2 tickets for Paris Saint-Germain's first home match of the 2021/22 season.
— Socios.com (@socios) August 12, 2021
Among clubs to launch tokens this year are English Premier League champions Manchester City and Italy’s AC Milan.
Messi’s former club Barcelona launched one last year.
The tokens are increasingly seen by clubs as a source of new revenue and Socios.com, which provide the tokens for PSG and other top clubs, says tokens have generated nearly $270 million for its partner clubs in 2021, with PSG already seeing revenue from the Messi deal.
Like Bitcoin and other digital currencies, fan tokens can be traded on exchanges.
They also share in common with other cryptocurrencies a tendency for wild price swings, leading some regulators to issue warnings to investors about digital assets.
Still, several high-profile business and entertainment figures have backed crypto assets, with Tesla boss Elon Musk, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay-Z among those to have shown support for Bitcoin.
PSG said there had been high volume of trading in its fan tokens after reports that Messi was set to join the club.
“We have been able to engage with a new global audience, creating a significant digital revenue stream,” said Marc Armstrong, PSG’s chief partnerships officer.
The price of PSG’s fan token rallied this week on rumours of the Messi deal.
Fan tokens’ price moves can have little connection to on-field performance or results.
Alexandre Dreyfus, the CEO of Socios.com, said PSG was benefitting from its token and other clubs could imitate its deal with Messi.
“I believe this could be the start of a new trend as fan tokens and Socios.com play an increasingly prominent role across sport at the very highest level,” he said.