One of the world’s footballing greats, Cristiano Ronaldo, has been named in a class action lawsuit in the US for his promotion of the crypto exchange Binance. Binance was in the news most recently after the CEO stepped down and both he and the company pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in the US and accepted a whopping $4.3 billion fine.
The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of plaintiffs who claim Ronaldo’s endorsement of the company led them to invest in crypto and lose money, as reported by the BBC. Fairly straightforward, though the money being sought—”a sum exceeding $1bn”—may give even a global superstar some pause.
Ronaldo and Binance first promoted “CR7” NFTs in December 2022: this is the footballer’s initials and shirt number, and is used as a brand on all manner of Ronaldo-endorsed products. At the time Ronaldo said the CR7 line of NFTs offered people “an iconic piece of sports history” and was going to “change the NFT game”, though in reality they did what the vast majority of NFTs do, and shortly after the initial sale tanked in value.
Proud to be partnering with @binance Together we’ll give you the opportunity to own an iconic piece of sports history.I’m excited to take this journey with all of you. Let’s change the NFT game with #Binance. pic.twitter.com/SNSCMHggctJune 23, 2022
The Florida suit says that Ronaldo’s profile and endorsement led the claimants into making bad investments:
“Evidence now reveals that Binance’s fraud was only able to reach such heights through the offer and sale of unregistered securities, with the willing help and assistance of some of the wealthiest, powerful and recognised organisations and celebrities across the globe—just like defendant Ronaldo.”
Curiously enough I just went to check out the CR7 collection on Binance, and the page has been removed. The suit goes on to say Ronaldo’s endorsement led people to invest in “unregistered securities”, which is one of the problems: the SEC classifies cryptocurrencies as securities, meaning anyone endorsing them has to follow US securities law. The SEC has previously said celebrities making such endorsements must be upfront about what they’re being paid: Ronaldo didn’t do so.
Amazingly enough Ronaldo still seems to be in bed with Binance, and recently posted on social media that he and the company are “cooking something up”.
Ronaldo joins a host of individuals and organisations that are now being pursued for their endorsements of crypto and / or NFTs, much of it focused on the collapsed FTX. 2022 saw the likes of Larry David and Tom Brady named in a class-action suit against FTX, before that firm’s collapse, while Major League Baseball, Formula 1 and Mercedes-Benz are all also facing class action lawsuits for their promotion of same.