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Messi Teams Up With Conservationist For Cleat Sculpture

Money From Soccer Legend’s Partnership To Go To Conservation

Photo Courtesy Join The Planet

Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers of the 21st century. He has won the Ballon d’Or, the European football equivalent to Most Valuable Player awards, a record eight times. Messi has won the Champions League three times and once scored 91 goals in a calendar year, a feat that has never been replicated. He’s capped it all off with a World Cup win, where he captained Argentina to glory at Qatar 2022. 

Now in the twilight of his career at MLS club Inter Miami, Messi is thinking about life after professional soccer. The commercially popular Barcelona icon has been a spokesperson for Lay’s Chips and PepsiCo for years. 

However, now he is turning his attention to climate.

The former Barcelona forward has partnered with Join The Plant, a climate action firm, and Karün, the sustainable eyewear company, for a special art project. 

The Business Download learned the news in a Lewis Blaustein op-ed in Green Sports Blog. Forbes and other sustainability news outlets also picked up the story. 

Join The Plant will be selling a collectible sculpture of Messi’s signature left-foot Adidas cleat (boot for our European readers). It is painted blue and signed by the Argentine international. The funds generated by sales will go toward several eco-projects across the U.S. The cleat was revealed on a Twitch livestream on March 1.

Photo Courtesy Join The Planet

The sculpture is made from recycled materials collected across the globe. Supplies came from Patagonia (the region), Indonesia, China, Thailand, India, and other countries. Karün is handling the sourcing of the materials. It also has a traceability system and blockchain technology, allowing for digital carbon labeling. 

Customers can trace the supply chain online. A digital certificate will be supplied to buyers of this sculpture, which will also be on the blockchain, where people can track the cleat’s carbon emissions.

“Join forces with Join the Planet so we may enact the change our planet needs,” Messi said in Spanish in the Join The Planet reveal video. 

The first project the sculpture funds is the clean-up of the Paraná River in South America. The river runs through Messi’s hometown of Rosario, Argentina. 

The 3,000-mile-long river is the second-largest in South America. It’s often compared to the Mississippi for its length and link to the open ocean. The river runs through Brazil, southeast Bolivia, north Argentina, and most of Uruguay. Join The Planet is working with Fundacíon Rosario, a local foundation dedicated to the betterment of the Argentine city.  

Photo Courtesy Luis Argerich/Wikimedia

The Paraná has record-low water levels as cattle farmers drain it and the surrounding wetlands. Normally, vessels float down it to export food from South America, but some areas are drying up due to climate change-caused drought. Its condition is straining these countries’ commerce and affecting the area’s natural beauty. 

Being the superstar athlete he is, this news raised the eyebrows of several of Messi’s detractors and critics. Some noted how Messi’s Join The Planet partnership is in conjunction with his paid ambassadorship for Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry. The oil-rich nation is trying to diversify its economy as the world shifts off fossil fuels and more global renewable energy policy passes.

Messi’s green partnership also happened at the same time as the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) signed a sponsorship with Saudi state-owned crude producer Aramco, which hasn’t signaled any intention to switch to renewable energy

Because of his influence and global stardom, Messi’s innovative Join The Planet collaboration has been viewed as generally positive. He is on the same level as Lebron James, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Patrick Mahomes. Hopefully, Messi’s effort and more athletes supporting green initiatives will kick off more climate action among sports fans.


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