Inspiring the Next Generation of “Leos”: Mastercard unveils "El equipo de los Leos", in honor of Lionel Messi

Miami, March 7, 2023
Research reveals regional explosion of the name ‘Leo’, proving that love for the footballer extends far beyond the pitch

Miami, March 7, 2023 – Mastercard paid tribute to Lionel Messi, a brand ambassador since 2018, with the launch of the video “El equipo de los Leos,” which shows how they surprised the Argentine soccer player in a gathering with children who bear the name Leo. The emotional video recognizes how inspirational Messi has become to the world and how he is such a positive role model for the next generation of football players.

Mastercard has analyzed data on Messi's off-field impact and found that since his profesional debut in 2004, the name “Leo” has exploded in popularity worldwide. The name is so popular that there was a 700% increase in the names Lionel and Lionela in Argentina after the national team achieved victory this past December.

"With the launch of 'El equipo de los Leos', Mastercard celebrates the passion of the most inspiring soccer player of all time, who has become a symbol of determination and dedication for the world"
Luis Araujo, vice president of consumer marketing for Mastercard Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the video, Messi is seen walking into a gathering of a group of kids, who show their astonishment at the arrival of the midfielder. But the surprise is mutual when Messi calls their names to give them their personalized jerseys and realizes that they are all named Leo, like him. The mascot uniforms handed out will be worn by the young fans in the qualifiers of the UEFA Champions League.

The popularity of Lionel and Leo extends across Latin America and around the world. Between 2017 and 2021, Leonardo was the fourth most popular name in Mexico. Chile, Colombia and Peru also recorded an increase in the number of children named Leonel, Leo or Messi. In Peru and there are 3,123 named “Messi” and even 267 children named the player's full name: "Lionel Messi"!

"Messi's name is synonymous with dreams fulfilled. At Mastercard we want to celebrate the legacy of our global ambassador because we are very proud of what Leo Messi has managed to build in sports and in life," concludes Araujo.


Note to editors.

Information on the increase of people named Leo, Lionel or Leonardo was obtained from the following agencies in each country:


- In Argentina: Civil registries of the different regional offices.

- In Mexico: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), an autonomous public agency responsible for regulating and coordinating statistical information in that country.

- In Colombia: National Civil Registry of Colombia, an entity with administrative autonomy responsible for registering the civil status and identification of Colombians.

- In Chile: Civil Registry and Identification Service, a decentralized public service with legal personality and its own assets.

- In Peru: National Registry of Identification and Civil Status, an autonomous agency responsible for the identification of Peruvians

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