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Game-Worn Globalism: The World's Sport Cashes in on Increased Memorabilia Interest

Game-Worn Globalism: The World's Sport Cashes in on Increased Memorabilia Interest
September 28, 2023
Dylan Dittrich

Photo: MatchWornShirt

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As Lionel Messi and Argentina blitzed through the field at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year, there was a fascinating undercurrent to their success. The Argentine national team had inked a partnership with AC Momento, meaning game-worn jerseys from the historic run would be available to the public for bidding. Jerseys from Lionel Messi's lone World Cup-winning campaign would be up for grabs, and those would be serious record fodder.

In fact, a jersey from the first match of the tournament - a loss to Saudi Arabia - saw bidding reach over €70k before the auction was postponed. Bear in mind this was when Argentina's prospects looked most dire. Ultimately, given the highly significant nature of the auctions, AC Momento elected to postpone the bidding until jerseys were in its custody. This would allow confirmation of authenticity and wear before bidders entered the trenches.  

But the jerseys never came.

In fact, it effectively spelled the end for AC Momento as a vendor of game-worn jerseys. The company has since pivoted to develop an application for sports fans to track their attendance at live events. The pivot likely comes from two factors: 1) the challenges in procuring authentic jerseys from partner clubs, and 2) potential limitations of scale for a venture-backed business. Understandable on both fronts, though the discontinuation of the game-worn jersey business eliminates a channel for collectors to access memorabilia from a high-growth, global sport.

While AC Momento's efforts in the space are no more, the offering of fresh-to-market soccer kits continues. With offices in Amsterdam, London, Sao Paolo, and Istanbul, MatchWornShirt has been in action since 2017, boasting a significant roster of partner clubs. This means a steady flow of jerseys to market, which is good news for collectors, as higher supply means lower entry points. Still, the right players and right moments command premium sums.

Tottenham captain Son Heung-min scored twice in Sunday's North London Derby against Arsenal, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Bidding for his jersey from the match is nearing $8,000 with 2 days left, as the newly-inked partnership with Tottenham, established in May, is proving to be a hit.

Paris Saint-Germain is also a partner club, and Mbappe-worn jerseys routinely sell for high four-figures or low five-figures depending on performance. Seeing as he scores in almost every game against inferior Ligue 1 competition, it's perhaps challenging for him to create incrementally memorable moments to fuel pricing. The influx of supply has no doubt reduced Mbappe prices - photomatched jerseys from games of little importance commonly sold for $25-35k at Goldin in 2022. Those levels have similarly corrected to high four-figure territory.

Last season, Messi jerseys on the MatchWornShirt platform were often north of $25,000, demonstrating the difference in floor price between the aging GOAT and the rising French superstar. The jersey from one of Messi's last matches for PSG, against Strasbourg, sold for $46,770. Similarly, the jersey from Neymar's last game at the club, a preseason friendly against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, sold for $14,850.

The offering extends beyond soccer to global favorites like rugby, cricket, and cycling among others. It's hard enough to wrap one's head around the global potential for soccer memorabilia, but cricket has seen five-figure sales on the platform, and there's a wealth of high-four-figure cycling results. Ultimately, across sports worldwide, offerings of fresh-to-market, athlete-worn material are proliferating. High supply means the unspectacular will likely command unspectacular values, but that accessibility allows the global audience to grow. And when the audience grows, activity generally trickles to higher tier items, creating further separation between the best and the rest.

Now all we have to do is learn how on earth cricket works so we can get a jump on the global growth in the sport's memorabilia market.

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