Lionel Messi made all sorts of headlines Wednesday night during Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Roma in their preseason friendly. There was the good: the 28-year-old Argentine scored his first goal of the season; the bad: he headbutt his opponent just minutes before; and the ugly: is Messi wearing a sports bra?!
The answer is no. At 158 pounds, Messi clearly doesn’t need any extra support up top. He’s wearing the tight crop top instead to record his vital statistics during the match.
Called StatSports Viper, the wearable technology measures his heart rate, the distance he ran, his acceleration rate, metabolic load distance and a whole slew of other variables. Messi’s friend in the photo, Italian legend Francesco Totti who plays for Roma, also wore the technology on Wednesday, according to the company. (He must have taken his off before the photo, however.)
Barcelona and Roma are just two of the dozens of elite teams that use wearable technology to try to understand how their players expend energy during matches. In practice, it’s not uncommon to see players, such as Dani Alves, wear the garments outside their kits. In games, though, it’s always worn underneath.
This technology sounds innovative, but it isn’t new. Soccer players (as well as increasingly other athletes) have been wearing SportStats or their competitor devices for years. Most famously, Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed off his technology-laced “sports bra” after a preseason game against Real Madrid in 2013. The Swedish national paired his top, made by GPSport, with a pair of short shorts, causing the Internet to all but break.
While there’s no logical answer for the tight, tiny shorts, like Messi’s get up on Wednesday, there was at least an answer for the bizarre-looking top. Again, no, it’s not a sports bra. It just looks like one.