When Bitcoin launched in 2013, no one could guess the ramifications of this unique invention. It was the first cryptocurrency, but certainly not the last. Thanks to exchange marketplaces, investing in digital money is easier than ever and users from all over the world can buy BNB, the Binance coin. However, paying online isn’t the only benefit of investing in cryptocurrency.
The first NFT (non-fungible token) entered the crypto market in 2014. The creators Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash named it "Quantum." This was the beginning of another revolution. Slowly but surely, cryptocurrency and NFTs debuted into new industries, from online payments to collectibles. And, now, even sports sponsorship.
Crypto projects and sports: from soccer to races
Cryptocurrency and NFTs have made their way into soccer, American football, and (most recently) even the National Basketball Association, the NBA. The latest crypto deal between basketball teams and crypto-related companies recorded a revenue of $1.6 billion in the 2021-22 season. The data comes from the sports partnerships consultancy IEG. Compared to the previous season, this was a 13% raise. One sports sponsorship example for the NBA is the $192 million partnership with the crypto trading platform Coinbase for the next four years
"The cryptocurrency category’s sponsorship sending spree is like nothing we have ever seen before," said Peter Laatz, IEG’s global managing director to CNBC.
From American basketball to European soccer: the cryptocurrency market has been taking over the sports world. The English team Manchester United F.C. made an agreement with Tezos, an open-source blockchain. The sponsorship is worth $27 million for a multi-year agreement.
However, independent soccer teams aren’t the only ones involved with crypto projects and sports sponsorship. In fact, FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football) has a new partner for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup: Crypto.com. In a statement, FIFA announced that the popular platform for investing in cryptocurrency will be the only crypto sponsor for the Cup. A real first in the industry.
On the other hand, a sport that isn’t new to crypto sponsors is Formula One. Tezos is also sponsoring the F1 team McLaren Racing. Another example of sports sponsorship in Formula 1 is Red Bull Racing which has a 3-year deal with cryptocurrency firm Bybit for $50 million per year. Binance has recently partnered with the team BWT Alpine while the Scuderia AlphaTauri team is sponsored by Fantom Blockchain.
Whether it’s in the field or in a track, the cryptocurrency market has officially entered the sports industry.
Reaching new (and old) fans
These are million-dollar deals, but they don’t just benefit the teams. Players wear the logos of the companies on their shirts, they wear basketball caps, and (sometimes) they also appear in ads of crypto projects. But this new relationship can also benefit fans. Especially when it comes to NFTs.
More and more fans all over the world are investing in cryptocurrency and buying digital art and collectibles. Entire teams and individual players have launched NFT collections which include exclusive content, unique access, and tickets. According to the National Research Group, 64% of sports fans are interested in NFTs and they are considering buying a token. Furthermore, 46% of them reported they would attend a sports event if the team gave them a commemorative NFT. So, fans are interested in digital collectibles and, having the logo of crypto companies on the athletes’ jerseys, can only push this trend.
That’s why big names from the industry are joining the cryptocurrency market. For example, the Italian racing team Ducati, which has launched a partnership with Nft Pro (already a partner of the Italian soccer team Juventus). The collection will also include digital spaces like the metaverse and all-inclusive services.
"Entering into this world is a way to get closer to our fans," said the CEO of Ducato Claudio Domenicali to La Repubblica, "because we are extending our services. It’s also an opportunity for a new community to meet us, the people interested in the NFT world. This way, they get a unique chance to see the Ducati style and collect digital and exclusive assets."
Ducati isn’t the only one to recently join the NFT wagon. Famous soccer player Cristiano Ronalndo is doing the same, thanks to his partnership with Binance. While there aren’t many public details on this collaboration, the expectation is already rising. For soccer fans and Ronaldo aficionados alike. And this is only the beginning.
Sports sponsorships with crypto companies can help both markets grow. People investing in cryptocurrency can take their first steps into sports, while fans can find a new way to invest and support their favorite athletes. It’s a win-win.