When the FIFA Men’s World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November, the logo of cryptocurrency exchange crypto.com will also be visible there. The biggest advertising flip to date for a cryptocurrency trading platform that was founded in 2016, which is also active in international football, ice hockey and Formula 1. crypto.com is a good example of the fact that the cryptocurrency industry is increasingly emerging as a sports sponsor, especially in football.
In the English Premier League, 17 of the 20 professional clubs have a commercial agreement with a company in the crypto sector. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual goods such as T-shirts are especially popular. The two sides hope to benefit from the cooperation: crypto companies want to become better known, and football clubs want to establish a presence in the crypto scene.
Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, Bremen sell their shirts in the name of NFT
Meanwhile, the crypto boom has also reached the Bundesliga. Bundesliga clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg displayed digital copies of their NFT-based jerseys on the football club’s platform, which sold out very quickly. On Wednesday, second division club Werder Bremen will present a digital kit based on NFT. So the goods become virtual.
However, payment is not made in euros, but with the cryptocurrency Flow US Dollar, FUSD for short. This automatically turns fans into crypto owners – potentially traders too. With all the opportunities and risks, because cryptocurrencies are sometimes subject to strong price fluctuations.
Juventus and Co. have their own cryptocurrency
Big foreign clubs such as Juventus Turin, Paris Saint-Germain and Atlético Madrid are already another step forward: NFT can only be purchased with club-owned cryptocurrencies, the so-called fan tokens. Among other things, holders of fan codes receive small perks: they can participate in voting on the design of the T-shirt, get discounts in the fan store or meet players in person. Borussia Dortmund also wanted to offer such fan tokens, but withdrew the plan after protests from the fan scene.
In addition to trading in NFTs, there is also a classic sponsorship: since the beginning of the season, Hertha BSC Berlin has been sponsored by Caizcoin, a cryptocurrency that advertises that Muslims can also use it. Because Caizcoins cannot be used for Darknet transactions or gambling – two areas that are forbidden in Islam.
Black sheep in the cryptocurrency industry
Drugs or weapons are often paid for with cryptocurrency, especially on the Darknet. Cryptocurrencies are also suspected of being used in tax evasion and money laundering.
Professor Bernhard Herz, who researches monetary theory and monetary policy at the University of Bayreuth, among other things, says, among other things: “The cryptocurrency industry has a reputation problem because there are black sheep out there. A currency that is produced anonymously in and of itself will always be vulnerable to a knock-on effect. Transactions such as tax evasion, terrorist financing or drug financing.
His Bayreuth colleague Marcus Curschedt sees it similarly: “Cryptocurrency is coming out of the dirty corner and is still relatively obscure,” said Curschedt, chair of Mathematical Sciences 2 at the University of Bayreuth. Through sports sponsorship, companies working in the crypto space have attempted to “set positive image signals for themselves and create image transmission.”
Both sides hope to get a picture
This is also reflected in the partnership that German football club TSG Hoffenheim struck in February with cryptocurrency Baby Doge, which will also develop NFTs for Hoffenheim. Baby Doge sees the partnership with Baden FC as an opportunity to expand its presence in the European Union, “to offer our benefits and establish ourselves as a player in the world of sport,” said a press release about the collaboration. Bringing in the crypto world, which is still somewhat questionable, is likely a major motivator for many crypto companies now working with football clubs.
On the contrary, TSG Hoffenheim also hopes to strengthen the image. Through the collaboration, the federation wants to cement its reputation as a “future-oriented, technology-driven Bundesliga club”. Even if, of course, this was pure PR talk: he didn’t seem to hesitate to contact a company from a sleazy angle.
Hertha BSC Berlin also anticipates a “technology-driven future” from its collaboration with Caizcoin. Through partnerships with companies from the crypto industry, German football clubs seem to want to give themselves an innovative image that is open to new technologies – and open up new sources of income.