Crypto Firm XBTO Loses Headline Sponsorship of Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF Jerseys

UTC by Mayowa Adebajo · 2 min read
Crypto Firm XBTO Loses Headline Sponsorship of Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF Jerseys
Photo: Leo Messi / Facebook

XBTO’s recent situation is one such case where it seems that crypto sponsorship in sports is fast losing the love and popularity it once enjoyed.

Crypto investment firm XBTO has lost its place as the main sponsor of the sports jersey being worn by popular football icon Lionel Messi.  For the past three years, XBTO has been the official crypto partner of American football club Inter Miami. However, the firm has now fallen out of grace with the club and will be replaced by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., per a Bloomberg report. This means that from the start of the 2024 season, Messi will no longer be a walking billboard for crypto.

The financial details of Inter Miami’s new agreement with Cruises remain undisclosed. However, there appears to be a huge lesson to take from XBTO whose 2021 multi-year deal with the club may have come to an end too soon.

Are Crypto and Sports Parting Ways?

XBTO’s recent situation is one such case where it seems that crypto sponsorship in sports is fast losing the love and popularity it once enjoyed. Recall that the popular National Basketball Association (NBA) team Miami Heats once had its home venue named after the erstwhile FTX exchange. However, the name ‘FTX Arena’ also did not last long. The venue was renamed after a software firm following FTX’s implosion and the criminal conviction of its co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

Without any doubt, crypto firms losing their partnership deals highlights what may be a major shift back toward traditional industries’ sponsorship in sports. If that is the case, then it may be a huge setback for crypto, especially in the area of awareness and adoption.

For what it’s worth, football and basketball are some of the most viewed sports on the planet. So, not only does partnering with sports do well for crypto’s fame and recognition, but it also helps its adoption by connecting it to an audience that is very likely to become potential customers.

Although what happened in XBTO’s case remains unknown, at least the change of name from FTX Arena would be understandable due to the negative scandal around FTX at the time.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that the merger between sports and cryptocurrency is still waxing strong. To put the above statement into perspective, eighteen of the twenty Premier League teams currently have an official cryptocurrency partner. That is not to mention the several other crypto partnerships across various leagues and sports federations.

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