Two of the world’s most highly valued professional football clubs, Manchester City and FC Barcelona, have discarded their crypto sponsors in eyebrow-raising circumstances.
After just over a week, Manchester City has suspended its partnership with shadowy cryptocurrency start-up 3Key Technologies. On November 15, the company was named by City as an “official regional partner in decentralised finance (DeFi) trading analysis” as part of a commercial expansion by the English Premier League champions.
However, that process has now been halted, with the decision believed to be based on 3Key’s lack of online presence and an apparent absence of due diligence, although a City spokesperson has denied the latter charge.
“Manchester City conducts due diligence in respect of all of its partnerships,” the spokesperson said. “[The club]’s partnership with 3Key Technologies has been announced but has not been activated in respect of any specific products or services in any part of the world.”
Manchester City will retain its deal with Socios Fan Token App, which it signed in March this year.
FC Barcelona Cancels Deal With Ownix
In the case of FC Barcelona, the Catalan club announced on November 19 that it had cancelled a deal with NFT marketplace Ownix after the arrest of one of its consultants, Moshe Hogeg, owner of Israeli football team Beitar Jerusalem.
Police arrested Hogeg and seven other people this week on suspicion of involvement in an alleged massive crypto fraud running into “tens of millions of shekels”. Hogeg is also facing separate charges of historical sexual assault involving an Israeli model.
On November 5, Ownix announced it was partnering with FC Barcelona to launch NFTs that would have allowed owners to buy digital certificates of authenticity for virtual items linked to the team’s history. This week, the club issued the following statement:
In light of information received that goes against the club’s values, FC Barcelona hereby communicates the cancellation of the contract to create and market NFT digital assets with Ownix, with immediate effect.FC Barcelona official statement
Ownix tweeted in response that it had terminated its deal with Hogeg to provide consultation services, saying the decision had been made at Hogeg’s request. Ownix also denied any connection to Hogeg’s arrest and that he held any shares in the company.
Lawyers representing Hogeg said in a November 25 statement that he “vehemently rejects” all charges and is “cooperating fully” with investigators.
FC Barcelona’s ‘Debt Crisis’ No Closer to Resolution
Earlier this month, FC Barcelona announced it would be auctioning NFTs of memorable moments from the club’s 122 years in the game. It was whispered at the time that the club was in the midst of a debt crisis, reportedly around US$1.57 billion in the red this northern summer. The club’s previous leadership was accused of reckless spending on players who have subsequently underperformed.
With the cancellation of its deal with Ownix, those purported NFTs may be some way off yet.
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