Cryptoboom reaches football: hope for good business

When the World Cup in men’s football starts in Qatar in November, the logo of the crypto exchange crypto.com will also be visible there. The largest advertising coup to date for the cryptocurrency trading platform founded in 2016, which is also active in international football leagues, ice hockey and Formula 1. crypto.com is a good example of the crypto industry increasingly acting as a sponsor in sports, 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 (NFT), virtual goods such as jerseys, are particularly prevalent. Both sides hope to benefit from the collaboration: The crypto companies want to become better known, the football clubs want to establish a presence in the crypto scene.

Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, Bremen sell jerseys like NFT

Meanwhile, the crypto boom has also arrived in the Bundesliga. Bundesliga clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg offered digital versions of their NFT-based jerseys on The Football Club platform, which sold out very quickly. On Wednesday, the second division club Werder Bremen also offers a digital jersey collection based on NFT. So the item becomes virtual.

However, payment is not made in euros, but with the cryptocurrency Flow US Dollar, abbreviated FUSD. This automatically turns fans into owners of cryptocurrencies – and potentially traders as well. With all the possibilities and risks, because cryptocurrencies are sometimes exposed to sharp price fluctuations.

Juventus and Co have their own cryptocurrencies

Major foreign clubs such as Juventus Turin, Paris St. Germain or Atletico Madrid are already a step further: their NFTs can only be purchased with club-owned cryptocurrencies, so-called fan tokens. Among other things, holders of fan tokens get small privileges: They can participate in voting on jersey designs, get discounts in the fan shop or meet the players in person. Borussia Dortmund also wanted to introduce such fan tokens, but withdrew the plan after protests from the fan scene.

In addition to trading in NFTs, there is also classic sponsorship: Since the start of the season, Hertha BSC Berlin has been sponsored by Caizcoin, a cryptocurrency that announces that Muslims can also use it. Because Caizcoins cannot be used for Darknet transactions or gambling – two areas considered forbidden in Islam.

Black sheep in the crypto industry

Drugs or weapons are often paid for with cryptocurrencies, especially on the Darknet. Cryptocurrencies are also suspected of being used for tax evasion and money laundering.

“The crypto industry has a reputation problem because there are black sheep there,” says Professor Bernhard Herz, who, among other things, researches monetary theory and monetary policy at the University of Bayreuth. A currency produced anonymously in itself will always be receptive. for transactions such as tax evasion, terrorist financing or drug financing.

His Bayreuth colleague Markus Kurscheidt sees it the same way: “Cryptocurrencies are coming out of the dirty corner and are still relatively opaque,” said Kurscheidt, president of Sports Science II at the University of Bayreuth. With sports sponsorship, companies from the crypto industry tried to “set positive image signals for themselves and create an image transfer.”

Both sides are hoping for an image gain

This is also reflected in the collaboration that the Bundesliga football club TSG Hoffenheim entered into in February with the cryptocurrency Baby Doge, which will also develop NFTs for Hoffenheim. Baby Doge sees the partnership with the Baden club as an opportunity to expand its presence in the EU, “to present our benefits and to establish ourselves as a player in the world of sport”, as stated in a press release on the collaboration. Bringing the crypto world, which is still somewhat suspicious, more into the mainstream will likely be a key motivation for many crypto companies now working with football clubs.

Conversely, TSG Hoffenheim also hopes for an image boost. With the collaboration, the association wants to strengthen its reputation as a “future-oriented, technology-driven Bundesliga club”. Even if it’s pure PR talk, of course: it does not sound like hesitation in contact with a company from the seedy corner.

Hertha BSC Berlin also expects a “technology-based future” from its partnership with Caizcoin. With partnerships with companies from the crypto industry, the German football clubs seem to want to give themselves an innovative image that is open to new technologies – and to open up new sources of income.

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