Football superstar Messi is partly paid in crypto by PSG

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Lionel Messi’s financial package at French football club Paris Saint-Germain includes crypto tokens.

Messi signed a two-year contract with PSG this week, with an option for a third, which will earn him an annual salary of $41 million plus bonuses and a reported $30 million entry fee.

PSG said on Thursday that Messi’s “welcome package” includes the cryptocurrency “$PSG Fan Tokens”.

The development has sparked a rally in the crypto tokens that PSG first issued to its fans over a year ago. Created in January 2020 with crypto platform Socios.com, the $PSG token is designed to help PSG build a new fan community.

PSG claimed the move to pay the 34-year-old Argentine in crypto, positioning it as one of the “most innovative and avant-garde brands in sport worldwide”.

Cryptocurrencies and crypto tokens are incredibly volatile assets and their value can rise or fall overnight. Critics say many of these crypto assets are useless in the real world and regulators will hold them back for years to come.

Marc Armstrong, PSG’s chief partnerships officer, said in a statement that embracing Socios.com and $PSG Fan Tokens has enabled the club to appeal to a new global audience and create a significant digital revenue stream.

England’s Manchester City launched its own fantoken with the same technology in March.

“Fan Tokens and Socios.com are playing an increasingly prominent role in the sport at the very highest level,” Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Socios.com, said in a statement.

PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi told reporters on Wednesday that the world will be “shocked” by the financial revenue generated by the club’s signing of the global football superstar.

The signing is expected to generate a windfall in commercial revenue, including through sweater sales. When Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Italy’s Juventus in 2018, more than $60 million worth of shirts were sold in just 24 hours.

Messi joined PSG as a free agent after Barcelona admitted they could no longer afford to fulfill the elite player’s five-year contract deal.

Messi burst into tears as he said goodbye to Barcelona on Monday, telling a press conference on Wednesday that the past week had been an “emotional roller coaster”.

He won the FIFA Player of the Year award six times and the European Golden Boot for the continent’s top goalscorer each, leaving Barcelona after two decades with the Catalan club, contributing 672 goals in all competitions and winning 34 trophies .

— Elliot Smith of CNBC contributed to this report.

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