The Real Reason Dropped Its $495 Million Champions League Sponsorship

The Real Reason Dropped Its $495 Million Champions League Sponsorship

Crypto has been making waves in the advertising space. From big-budget Super Bowl ads (rumoured to be worth $7 million for only 30 seconds) to Matt Damon’s much-mocked appearance for, these ads grab attention. looked like it was lining up another big budget campaign with a five year Champions League sponsorship worth $495 million. Instead, the deal mysteriously fell through at the last minute.

Source: BBC News

Crypto going mainstream

This sponsorship would have been a massive coup for and probably the biggest advertising campaign that Defi has ever seen. The Champions League was previously sponsored by Russian gas firm Gazprom. When the deal was terminated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stepped in.

Some have suggested that the bear market is to blame.

The deal would have lasted until 2027, with branding visible across every Champions League game for five seasons at around $100 million per season. It seems steep, but the returns for such visibility would likely have been colossal, exposing to a massive and largely untapped audience. The Champions League Final alone attracts up to 400 million viewers. has a long history of big-budget sporting sponsorships. A deal to rename the LA Staples Centre ‘The Arena’ cost $700 million and sponsorship of the Australian Football League was worth $25 million. It’s also one of the official sponsors for the upcoming Qatar World Cup. The infamous Matt Damon advert set the firm back $100 million.

Why did the deal collapse?

Like all crypto firms, has been battered by the market downturn and laid off about 5% of its corporate staff in June. Some have suggested this might be why they pulled out. Others speculated that falling crypto prices have made big businesses worry about their customers losing money, but walked away for a more fundamental reason. 

Regulation is to blame. Sources suggest that the firm was worried about increased regulation in the European markets that would affect its ability to “trade and operate.” Regulation is a contentious issue in Defi, but it is encroaching. The UK government recently laid out plans to regulate stablecoins, the EU followed suit in July and also changed licensing laws around cryptocurrency businesses. Joe Biden’s executive order means that regulation is on the way in the US. The list goes on and on.

Football is no stranger to crypto

Football isn’t a stranger to crypto advertising. Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Watford have all been sponsored by Defi organisations at one time or another. With the Champions League deal now defunct, we might just have lost one of crypto’s best and biggest chances to reach a brand new audience and maybe even achieve that fabled state of going fully “mainstream.”


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