Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is currently facing a class action lawsuit in the United States related to his endorsement of Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange.
The plaintiffs contend that Ronaldo's promotion of Binance persuaded them to make investments that ultimately resulted in financial losses. The damages sought in the lawsuit exceed a staggering $1 billion (£790 million). The BBC has reached out to both Ronaldo's management company and Binance for their comments on the matter.
The legal action stems from Ronaldo's association with Binance, announced in November 2022 when the cryptocurrency exchange revealed its inaugural "CR7" collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in collaboration with the football icon. Ronaldo, known for his "CR7" branding across various products, expressed that these NFTs would serve as a reward for the unwavering support of his fans.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are virtual assets without a tangible form, existing solely in the digital realm. Typically used to establish ownership of digital content like images or videos, NFTs have gained popularity in various industries.
In a social media video announcing the partnership, Ronaldo assured potential investors that they would "change the NFT game and take football to the next level."
The "CR7" collection went on sale in November 2022, with the cheapest NFT priced at $77. However, within a year, its value plummeted to about $1.
The claimants argue that Ronaldo's endorsement significantly boosted searches for Binance, resulting in a "500% increase in searches" for the cryptocurrency exchange, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.
As the legal proceedings unfold, this case brings attention to the complexities surrounding celebrity endorsements in the cryptocurrency space and raises questions about the responsibility associated with promoting financial products to a global audience.