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Binance to launch new Ronaldo NFTs ‘soon’ amid legal case

A young Cristiano Ronaldo fan pictured at an Al Nassr Saudi Pro League match. The star has approximately 849 million social media followers Reuters/Stringer
A young Cristiano Ronaldo fan pictured at an Al Nassr Saudi Pro League match. The star has approximately 849 million social media followers
  • Star to launch fourth set of NFTs
  • $1bn class-action lawsuit in Florida
  • Crypto exchange hails ‘CR7’ brand

Cristiano Ronaldo and the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance are to launch a fourth set of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) “soon”, as the footballer faces a $1 billion lawsuit for promoting the company.

The Al Nassr and Portugal forward signed a deal with Binance in 2022 to create NFTs – digital collectibles – using his “CR7” brand, which are traded on the company’s platform.

“Our fourth drop is about to be launched,” Rachel Conlan, chief marketing officer at Binance, told AGBI. “It’s incoming soon and it will celebrate his career. There are seven drops planned with CR7 over the course of two years.”

The first CR7 NFTs were priced from about $77 to $10,000 on their release in November 2022, ahead of the Qatar World Cup. Ahead of this article’s publication on April 26, some CR7 NFTs were trading for as low as $1.16 on Binance.

Ronaldo’s partnership with the exchange has prompted some investors to file a class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

It accuses the footballer of promoting the crypto exchange in a “deceptive and unlawful” manner and is seeking over $1 billion in damages. Plaintiffs claim the endorsement led them into unsafe investments that significantly dropped in value.

Ronaldo’s representatives declined to comment when contacted about this article.

Binance, which this month was awarded a licence from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority allowing it to expand its service offering, carries a warning on its platform that the assets it trades are “high risk”.

Conlan declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed last November, but said it had not affected the NFT collaboration with Ronaldo or interest in the CR7 drops. “Our relationship is very strong,” she said.

She added that the CR7 tokens had “opened up the Binance brand to a whole cohort of new users”. 

“It allows us to get deeper insights and understanding of the football community base, what drives them and how they think,” she said.

The Florida lawsuit also points to Ronaldo’s popularity with football fans worldwide and his reach on social media.

He has more than “849 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter”, court documents stated, and, after the NFT partnership was announced, “online searches for NFT-related search terms surged, including a 500 percent increase in searches using the keyword ‘Binance’”.

Binance itself has been previously accused of several breaches of federal law in the US. Last November its founder, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to prevent money laundering on the platform.

The company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures and Zhao resigned as CEO. 

Demand for the NFT asset class has plummeted since its trading peak in 2021. Crypto review site dappGambl analysed more than 73,000 NFT collections last year and found that 95 percent of them had a market capitalisation of zero. It estimated that more than 23 million people were holding these investments.

However, Conlan said the industry was in a nascent stage and there was still “huge value to be unlocked”.

“I don’t think you can write off NFTs just yet. I think NFTs had a bad name because a lot of them were introduced where you didn’t necessarily understand the implicit intrinsic value in them. It has to be about real-life use cases that bring value.”

What are NFTs?

NFTs are unique digital tokens on a blockchain that represent ownership of real-world or virtual items such as artwork, real estate and collectibles.

Ronaldo’s first set of digital collectibles featured seven animated statues of the player. Utilities – or perks – available to CR7 NFT holders have included signed football shirts and a digital meet-and-greet with the football star, alongside continuing access to giveaways and other fan events. Five holders attended a training session with him in Portugal.

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