Lionel Messi is expected to donate some of proceeds from auctioning several of his 2022 World Cup shirts to a children’s hospital in Barcelona, with the city still extremely dear to him despite taking his football career elsewhere in recent years.
The Unicas Project led of the Sant Joan de Deu Barcelona Children’s Hospital will benefit enormously as it cares for and treats children with rare diseases.
The 2022 World Cup was Messi’s crowning moment, getting his hands on the only trophy that had still eluded him after years of domestic and European success with Barcelona, as well as finally landing the Copa America with Argentina a year earlier in 2021.
Off the back of the World Cup, in which he was also awarded the Golden Ball as best player and Silver Boot as second top scorer, Messi received his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or.
The 36-year-old has allowed six of the jerseys he wore in Qatar, including one from the final, to go up for auction with the world famous Sotheby’s. Each shirt was worn in the first half of its respective game, with two group stage fixtures, the last 16 against Australia, quarter-final against Netherlands, semi-final against Croatia and the aforementioned final against France represented.
The shirt that Messi was wearing when he actually lifted the World Cup trophy is not therefore part of the lot, likely staying within his own extensive personal collection.
Sotheby’s price estimate for the six shirts is in excess of $10m (£8m). That would break the record for game worn football memorabilia, which is currently the £7.4m that Diego Maradona’s 1986 ‘Hand of God’ Argentina shirt from the World Cup quarter-final against England was sold for in 2022.
The Messi lot could even break the record for all of sports memorabilia. Right now, that mark belongs to a Chicago Bulls jersey worn by Michael Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals, having been sold for £8.1m, also at Sotheby’s, just over a year ago.
Sotheby’s was supplied the Messi shirts by US-based tech start-up AC Momento, which helps high profile athletes manage match-worn memorabilia. The shirts have been independently photo matched for authenticity by Sports Investors Authentication.