One of the strongest arguments for the adoption of cryptocurrencies is its endorsement by leading athletes, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Tom Brady, and now Lionel Messi.
Digital assets are being endorsed by some of the world's top-performing athletes, and this naturally begs the question why.
After the crypto bull run in early 2021, many institutions, consumers and sports people saw the potential of currencies such as Bitcoin and decided to join in.
The NBA Sacramento Kings made headlines when owner Vivek Ranadive announced in April that anyone in the organization could choose to be paid in Bitcoin if they wanted to. That included players, staff, and anyone involved with the team.
Endorsement has manifested itself in other ways too, with Trevor Lawrence, a promising football college quarterback, signing a deal with Blockfolio, an aggregator that tracks cryptocurrency prices across numerous exchanges.
Some athletes have been a little more prescient than the pack, seeing crypto’s potential well ahead of time. For example, back in 2019, Carolina Panthers’ Russell Okung tweeted “Pay me in Bitcoin”, which may have oiled the wheels of progress at least a little.
Okung was never actually paid Bitcoin, but he acted on his confidence that it would be a good idea and converted half of his $13m salary into the digital currency at the end of 2020, when the price of the coin was around $27,300. The price would soar to $65,000 just a few months after that. Today, BTC is worth $45,000 and it seems to be headed up.
Making it easier for pro athletes to be paid in crypto
Much has changed since 2020 though. In just the space of a few months, crypto went from undesirable on your balance sheet as a company or a sports organization to something that is perfectly acceptable. Companies such as PayPal, MasterCard and Tesla have showed that it is possible to work with crypto.
As a result, more sports franchises should be able to afford and allow the option of crypto payment to their athletes.
Just this week, Lionel Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and the club confirmed that Barcelona's former soccer ace had received a substantial number of $PSG fan tokens, digital assets with real value and a real impact on executive club decisions.
Of course, fan tokens are a slightly different form of digital currency, but they still have a real value and an endorsement by PSG and Messi means their value will only continue to go up. Other athletes to have endorsed crypto payments include Ronaldo who received 770 $JUV fan tokens on one occasion.