Messi helps ‘fan tokens’ take off as crypto enters football industry

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The emergence of crypto-related businesses in football comes as countries introduce regulations to crack down on gambling sponsorship.

There is a mini revolution happening as companies related to cryptocurrency have started to appear on shirts. (AFP Archives)

Paris Saint-Germain’s ‘fan token’ known as chiliz has gained over fifty percent in value in just four weeks as Lionel Messi’s move to the club brings more publicity to the cryptocurrency.

When Paris Saint-Germain signed Lionel Messi, the salary package included something new for a player – a one-time payment, estimated at around $ 1.15 million (one million euros), made in “fan tokens”. “from PSG.

It was the result of a partnership signed by the French giants in 2018 with Socios.com which sees fans using a cryptocurrency called “chiliz” to buy tokens allowing them to vote on issues related to the club.

The company has grown rapidly since signing its first partnerships with PSG and Juventus to be involved in 56 football clubs and around 100 sports teams around the world, CEO Alexandre Dreyfus said.

Messi has done more publicity and Dreyfus believes the Argentine “will set a trend”.

“It’s more of a supplement that will never replace any compensation. It’s more like a bonus, but it’s a bonus that at some point players will start to claim,” said Dreyfus.

“We hope that in two years, during the ‘mercato’ (transfer window), a player will say, ‘Yes, I’m going to this team but they better give me a million dollars in fan tokens’.”

Dreyfus admits that the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have benefited his company, allowing them to multiply their partnerships.

“The point is, clubs suddenly lost 50%, 70% or 80% of their income, and they were like, ‘Hey, we have fans all over the world, what can we sell them?'”

“A mini-revolution”

They now have shirt sponsorship deals with Inter Milan and Valencia, promoting their fan chips.

New analysis from KPMG Football Benchmark shows that more than 40 shirt sponsorship deals have been signed in Europe’s five biggest leagues since the start of the pandemic.

He says Inter doubled their revenues by switching from Pirelli to Socios.com and a deal worth $ 23.57 million. There is a mini revolution happening as companies related to cryptocurrency have started to appear on shirts.

There are concerns that curious bettors may be trained to use crypto related products without having a good understanding.

To underline their volatility, the value of “chiliz” – a cryptocurrency less well-known than, say, Bitcoin – soared 58% in the four weeks following Messi’s arrival.

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Source: AFP



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