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Champions League Sponsorship up in the Air After Crypto.com Deal Collapse?

September 21, 2022

UEFA saw a Champions League sponsorship deal worth £428m over five seasons slip through its fingers at “the last moment”, according to Sport Business. This competition is without a major sponsor after UEFA swiftly cut ties with Russian energy provider Gazprom earlier this year. However, the competition remains the most keenly watched tournament in world club football, with a host of teams capable of winning the 2022/23 Champions League. The man of the moment in European football is Norwegian hot-shot Erling Haaland, who has taken the Champions League brand to greater heights. According to George Gamble, who is one of the leading analysts for oddschecker across all football betting markets, his recent betting preview stated that Haaland is the fastest player in Champions League history to score 25 goals in the competition.

Although the battle for the 22/23 Champions League between the likes of City, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich looks hugely intriguing, the competition could certainly have done with a fresh injection of cash from Crypto.com, the world’s fastest growing cryptocurrency trading app. The brand, which is globally headquartered in Singapore and boasts over ten million active users worldwide, saw its sponsorship of the Champions League fall through over issues regarding tightening crypto trading regulations.

Haider Rafique, global marketing chief at crypto trading exchange OKX, said the landscape for crypto trading and usage in Europe remains “nuanced and still evolving”. It’s said Crypto.com officials feared that governments across Europe could soon unleash regulatory roadblocks that could prevent the firm from operating throughout the continent, thereby rendering their sponsorship pointless.

The Crypto.com brand is no stranger to sponsoring some of the biggest sporting events on the planet. It has active sponsorship partnerships with Formula 1 and recently secured a deal with FIFA for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It is also firmly embedded in major league sports stateside, with NBA icon LeBron James featuring at the heart of a Crypto.com advertising campaign showcased during the Super Bowl’s popular television coverage.

It’s a blow to UEFA’s bottom line, after taking the moral high ground to sever commercial relations with Gazprom. In doing so, they have left themselves out of pocket, but there will surely be no shortage of suitors looking to step into the shoes of Crypto.com.

Football and cryptocurrency has been intrinsically linked in recent seasons. Manchester City penned a deal to have OKX as their official training kit partner. Meanwhile crypto trading platform WhaleFin now sponsors Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and English Premier League outfit Chelsea. Even EFL Championship club Watford previously had Bitcoin as their club’s leading sponsor, with the Hornets accepting crypto transactions at its Vicarage Road stadium.

Crypto has even made its way into the transfer market. In 2021, David Barral became the first footballer to have their transfer fee paid for in cryptocurrency. Barral signed for Internacional de Madrid, a third-tier Spanish side, in January 2021. The fee was paid for exclusively in Bitcoin.

UEFA pens deal with Turkish Airlines

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Aside from the disappointment of failing to close the arrangement with Crypto.com, UEFA has recently secured a sponsorship deal with its inaugural airline partner. Turkish Airlines will sponsor the UEFA Champions League for the remainder of the season, which is apt given that the final of the 2022/23 competition is due to be staged in the Turkish capital Istanbul.

As part of the deal, Turkish Airlines will also host the UEFA Super Cup, the UEFA Youth League final and even the UEFA Futsal Champions League final. It’s been dubbed as one of the “most important sponsorship deals” in Turkish sporting history. Professor Ahmet Bolat, chairman of the board and the executive committee at Turkish Airlines, said the “flag carrier airline” of Turkey was looking forward to “bring the whole world together” for the Champions League final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on 10th June 2023.

Turkish Airlines is the eighth official global sponsor of this year’s UEFA Champions League, joining the likes of Mastercard, Heineken, PlayStation and PepsiCo.

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