What do you get the man who already has everything? In the case of international soccer superstar Lionel Messi, you give him back his name. Messi has finally won out after an insanely long battle over a disputed trademark.
Lionel Messi is known across the world
One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete better at his trade than Lionel Messi is at playing soccer. The 33-year-old native of Argentina has been a scoring machine for Barcelona in La Liga since joining the big club in the 2004-05 season. Messi has scored 444 goals in 485 league games and 634 goals in 761 contests overall, ranking him as one of the most reliable producers at the sport’s highest level.
He holds La Liga’s records for goals in a season (50) and a career. On top of that, he is the all-time La Liga leader with 183 assists.
Messi, rivaled only by Cristiano Ronaldo as a scoring threat at the highest level, has earned a record six Ballon d’Or awards, including four in a row, while leading Barcelona to multiple league and international titles.
His wizardry extends to his outings representing the homeland he left at the age of 13 to pursue his professional career in Spain. He has 70 goals in 138 appearances with Argentina’s national team. After reversing direction after announcing his retirement from the national team in 2016, he led Argentina to qualification for the World Cup two years later.
The money pours in for Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has already made more than $1 billion in salary and endorsements through his exploits on the soccer field, joining Cristiano Ronaldo as the sport’s only players to reach that level.
According to Forbes, Messi pulled in $92 million in salary and $34 million in endorsements to hold down the No. 1 spot in the world for annual earnings by a soccer player. The only players even close in that respect are Ronaldo, the Juventus star at $117 million, and Neymar of Paris St.-Germain at $96 million.
Now, Messi has the go-ahead to start working toward racking up his next billion dollars.
The star earns approval to get the most out of his name
It took nine years, but Lionel Messi can finally trademark his surname. The European Court of Justice ruled in his favor on Sept. 17, dismissing an appeal by Spanish cycling company Massi.
Messi already reels in considerable money from endorsing products by Adidas and other sponsors, but he has been limited in the ways he can market certain products under his own name – until now.
Messi applied to trademark his surname as a sportswear brand in 2011. That was quashed in 2013 by Massi, a Spanish brand best known for its cycling apparel and equipment. Massi had argued that similarities in the name and logo between the two brands would damage its business.
The soccer star pressed on with his efforts. In 2018, the EU’s General Court handed down an opinion that Messi was too well known for there to be any confusion.
The only real downside for Messi is his age. Though still dangerous on the field – he scored 25 goals in 33 La Liga contests last season – Messi is 33 years old and headed toward the twilight of his career. He sought to escape the remaining year on his contract with Barcelona recently but was rebuffed.
Messi can still reap significant money off his name the next few seasons regardless of where he lands in Europe, but he lost many valuable years of income from licensing his name for apparel, sporting goods, and certain other products before winning in court.