Lionel Messi’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain included a payment in cryptocurrency fan tokens, the club confirmed on Thursday, providing another big-name endorsement for new digital assets.
Messi, 34, left Spanish side Barcelona and signed a two-year contract with PSG, with an option for a third year, on Tuesday.
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PSG said in a statement the tokens included in his “welcome package,” or signing-on fee, had been provided by Socios.com, who are the club’s fan token provider.
The club did not state what percentage of the deal comprised the tokens but said he had received a “large number.” It also has not disclosed the overall financial package.
Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that allow holders to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs. Among the clubs to launch tokens this year are English Premier League champions Manchester City and Italy’s AC Milan.
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 of its fan tokens after reports of Messi’s move to the club emerged.
“The hype surrounding the latest signings in the club’s busy summer transfer window created a huge surge of interest in $PSG Fan Tokens, with trading volumes exceeding $1.2 billion in the days preceding the move,” it said.
The fan tokens’ price moves can have little connection to on-field performance or results.
PSG’s token, which has a market capitalisation of about $52 million, soared over 130% in just five days amid speculation over Messi’s arrival to an all-time high of over $60 on Tuesday. They were last down 10% at about $40, according to the CoinMarketCap website.
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