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Football Star Ronaldo Slapped with $1b Lawsuit Over Crypto

By Jinia12/11/2023


Portuguese soccer icon Christiano Ronaldo is now at the center of a $1 billion class action lawsuit in a landmark case that intertwines the worlds of sports and cryptocurrency. 

The suit, filed in a Florida court, alleges Ronaldo’s involvement in promoting unregistered securities through Binance, the world’s leading crypto exchange, explicitly focusing on non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Allegations of Misleading Endorsements

The lawsuit claims Ronaldo actively promoted and assisted in selling NFTs, leading to significant losses for investors. 

To the uninitiated, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are closely related to cryptocurrencies. They represent unique digital collectables such as artwork, music, videos, and even moments from sports and entertainment. 

Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are interchangeable and identical in value (like Bitcoin or Ethereum), each NFT is distinct, with its own unique digital signature that verifies its authenticity and ownership.

This uniqueness is what drove the immense popularity of NFTs, as they allowed creators and collectors to assign and trade value to digital items that were previously easy to replicate and distribute without control. 

The  NFT boom saw everything from digital art pieces selling for millions of dollars to tweets and memes being tokenized and sold as collectable assets.

In November last year, Ronaldo launched his inaugural NFT collection titled “CR7”, which was available for his fans and followers to buy on Binance. Some of the NFTs in the collection were valued at about $10,000 a piece and featured Ronaldo’s iconic moments in his life as a soccer player. 

It is these digital assets from Ronaldo’s collection that have come under scrutiny for their authenticity and value. Binance has remained silent on the issue, and Ronaldo’s representatives have declined to comment.

SEC Sounds the Alarm

The rapid rise and subsequent fall of many NFT projects has shed light on the volatile and speculative nature of this market. 

Last year’s enthusiasm led to an influx of capital into NFTs with little regulation or oversight. Now, as the dust settles, the billions of dollars lost in these ventures are coming into sharp focus, raising questions about the responsibilities of those promoting such investments.

Ronaldo’s case is not isolated. It follows a growing trend of legal challenges faced by celebrities who, in one way or another, promote illegitimate crypto-related assets and NFTs. 

The SEC’s recent fine on Kim Kardashian for similar issues underlines the need for transparency in such endorsements. High-profile figures like Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen have also faced legal scrutiny for their crypto promotions.

According to SEC chair Gary Gensler, “Celebrities must disclose to the public from who and how much they are getting paid to promote investment in securities.”

The Binance Controversy

Binance itself is embroiled in controversy. 

The company recently agreed to pay over $4 billion in fines after a lengthy investigation revealed activities linked to illegal transactions on its platform. 

Changpeng Zhao, the founder, has stepped down as CEO and faces personal fines and potential prison time.

Expert Insights

Legal experts and regulators are calling for stricter guidelines on celebrity endorsements in the financial sector. 

“Selling financial instruments is fundamentally different from endorsing consumer products,” says Charles Whitehead, a professor at Cornell Law School. 

In regards to the major fraud cases that have emerged in the crypto space ranging from the fall of FTX and legal suits against Binance, Whitehead and other experts emphasize the need for celebrities to seek legal advice before engaging in the promotion of crypto-related products.

As the lawsuit progresses, the focus on celebrity roles in financial endorsements is expected to intensify. 

This lawsuit represents a significant moment in the intersection of sports, entertainment, and financial regulation, highlighting the complex responsibilities of celebrities and companies in the burgeoning digital asset market.

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Jinia is a fintech writer focused on the cryptocurrency market and passionate about blockchain technology. With years of experience, she contributes to some of the most renowned crypto publications such as Cointelegraph, Coinmarketcap and others. She also has experience writing about the iGaming industry.

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