Formula One team McLaren Racing, football teams Sporting Lisbon and Italy’s Spezia, have dropped Turkish crypto company Bitci as a sponsor. Bloomberg reported that a source familiar with Sporting Lisbon’s situation stated the decision was due to Bitci’s failure to make payments, but the other two sports teams did not confirm a reason for terminating the relationship with the crypto platform.
The three contracts were formalized less than one year ago. McLaren announced the partnership in June of 2021 and the two Football teams in September. All had fan token deals with Bitici. McLaren’s token was launched and still appears on Bitci’s website, but it is unclear what will happen with the project. We’ve asked McLaren but didn’t receive a response in time for publication.
Bitci was initially a cryptocurrency exchange, but in the last year or so, it planned to become one of Socios greatest competitors in the fan token market. While Socios attempted to expand into the United States, Bitci signed partnerships with a series of Brazilian clubs, including the national team.
A survey conducted by Statista estimates that 16% of the Brazilian population owns crypto. The combination of the industry being less regulated and the cultural norm of football fanaticism makes it an appealing target for cryptocurrency companies. Still, of the seven Brazilian club partnerships, none have launched their fan token. Out of Bitci’s 38 fan token projects, 25 have launched a fan token.
The fan token projects can potentially be delayed. Premier League’s Wolves announced a fan token project in June and Bitci is yet to launch the digital asset as the team is still carrying out due diligence. A partnership with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced in September also does not yet have a token.
These are not the first crypto deals in the sports industry to be abandoned. However, others were likely for different reasons. Manchester City suspended a partnership with cryptocurrency firm 3Key after due diligence raised concerns about where the company was based and whether it had yet launched a service. And FC Barcelona canceled an NFT deal following cryptocurrency fraud allegations against a person involved in brokering the deal.