Lionel Messi Signs $20M Deal with Controversial Crypto Fan Token Company

Lionel Messi Signs $20M Deal with Controversial Crypto Fan Token Company article feature image

Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi has signed a three-year, $20 million deal with the controversial crypto fan token company Socios.

The crypto firm sells tokens that allow customers to unlock VIP rewards and access exclusive promotions from their favorite teams and athletes. Many clubs also allow token holders to influence decisions like what color gloves a team's goalkeeper will wear or which patches the team's jersey will don.

The tokens rise and fall in value in conjunction with the market.

The rise of Socios has become a point of contention across Europe. The company has developed partnerships with dozens of the top teams across the continent, including Messi's clubs: Paris Saint-Germain and the Argentine national team.

Supporters say Socios increases fan engagement and gives them more stake in minor club decisions. Detractors say it monetizes loyalty to a dangerous degree.

FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton, Leeds, Aston Villa, the Portuguese national team, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and among the dozens of soccer institutions that have partnered with the crypto firm.

West Ham United in 2019 scrapped a deal with Socios due to fan concerns.

Socios' deal with Messi will include promotions before and during the World Cup, which might be the legend's last ever international tournament.

Messi said in a statement that he's proud Socios is helping to better connect fans with their favorite teams and athletes.

"Fans deserve to be recognized for their support. They deserve opportunities to influence the teams they love," Messi said in a statement. " exists to enhance the fan experience, to enable fans to 'be more.'"

Top sportsmen across the world have begun to partner with crypto firms in recent years, including Tom Brady, LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers, who all have stakes in the companies they partner with.

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