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Sports, sponsorships, and crypto

Dec 15, 2022

           The world cup is almost over, we have seen some great games over the past weeks, and with only two games left, the biggest sports event is ending. Who will face Argentina this Sunday in the final match? Well, we will find out later today. Right now, you must be thinking, what does this have anything to do with cryptocurrencies, well is simple, chances are, you probably watched at least a few games of this year's world cup, or at least some highlights on social media, and you might have noticed something, and that is the Crypto exchange platform is among the sponsors of the world event held by FIFA.

The presence of the exchange company does not come as a big surprise if you have heard of other partnerships of this company, but, given this football fever, and while we wait for the grand final, this could be a great time to talk a little bit about the relationship with cryptocurrencies and sports over the past years, of course, if we wanted to take a big dive in this topic, a brief article like this would fall short, so let's keep it simple.

It is hard to say when this relationship began, but let's take a moment and look back a few years ago, on December 2014, when one of the earliest recorded marketing efforts with cryptocurrency and the professional sports industry happened, a sponsorship deal with BitPay and ESPN Events, an agreement to sponsor the St. Petersburg Bowl, it was paid on BTC and was stated that the annual postseason college football game played in Florida would be known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. The tickets and merchandise could be paid with BTC, which lasted for two years until Bitpay declined to renew the deal.

There is a reason for this particular deal to be important for this topic, and that is it was a sponsorship agreement with one of the biggest multinational sports media conglomerates there is (Something you may not know is that ESPN Inc is a segment of the Walt Disney Company), the thing is, sports move a lot of money, and a lot of that money is from marketing efforts and sponsorships, we only have to take a look at any sports event and pay attention to all the company that has paid to be advertised there. Last year hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in crypto advertising in all areas of professional sports. Many logos of crypto companies could be seen, from different sports leagues to all sorts of teams. Many of those deals were possible thanks to the bull market crypto was experiencing during 2021, the year of the highest price for Bitcoin.

Now let's talk about the first company I mentioned, the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange platform "" currently they are the main sponsor of the Italian football league "Lega Serie A" appearing in all of the league matches broadcasts and the presenting partner of the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) and Goal Line technology.

In the same year, they acquired the Serie A deal, they also became sponsors of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), and also one of the most famous European teams, the Paris Saint-Germain football club, where prominent players such as Mbapé, Messi, and Neymar play, also they are as previously mentioned, one of the official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

But didn't limit itself to only sponsoring football leagues and teams, we can see their giant company logo on the “Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix”, and also on Aston-Martin's single-seater since they had a partnership too, the crypto exchange giant partnership portfolio, reaches the UFC, NFL team 76ers, NHL L. A Kings, Esports with Team Fnatic, and the Twitch Rivals competition.

Indeed, they are probably the best example as one of the most "visible" crypto companies out there, not everything is perfect since they had to cut off 5% of their workers in June this year, while Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao tweeted, about them refusing to pay for ads during Superbowl and many other sponsorship deals, but now they were able to open 2000 positions for hire.

Of course, there are many relevant partnerships outside the ones with, like Cristiano Ronaldo's collaboration with Binance or Lionel Messi's new deal to promote the crypto fan token company "Socios," speaking of which, fan engagement tokens must be mentioned, as they are a creative way of interacting with the team you support, these tokens can provide the right to vote on club matters such as kit designs, training ground names or picking charity initiatives, in fewer words, is like a VIP membership for fans through blockchain, and they are becoming more popular.

If we can take away something, is how much crypto has blended into our lives, now it's hard to imagine a modern world without cryptocurrency. Truly Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper on bitcoin greatly impacted our lives. It's been a long time since that famous Bitcoin transaction in exchange for two pizzas, at a time when people were still figuring out how to use crypto in their daily lives. Now 12 years later, crypto is used for everything from buying groceries to purchasing tickets for sporting events.

Unsurprisingly, crypto has become popular among sports fans and players. Crypto has taken a more prominent role in the sports industry, from sponsorships with less-known professional teams and events such as the St. Petersburg Bowl to significant partners of professional football leagues and even stadiums and tracks named after the giant cryptocurrency companies, like the FTX Arena named after the now controversial exchange company FTX, whose former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried got arrested a few days ago in the Bahamas just a month after the solvency crisis his company experienced.

Hector Borges