Lionel Messi's team swaps volatile crypto sponsorships for stable traditional industry partners like Royal Caribbean.
The world of sports sponsorships is experiencing a significant shift as teams and athletes move away from cryptocurrency deals in favor of partnerships with more traditional industries. This change is exemplified by the recent decision of Inter Miami CF, a soccer team led by the renowned Lionel Messi, to end its relationship with crypto investment firm XBTO. Instead, the team has opted to don jerseys sponsored by Royal Caribbean Cruises for the 2024 season.
The move away from crypto sponsorships is not isolated to Inter Miami CF. The broader sports industry seems to be distancing itself from the volatile crypto market, which has faced numerous challenges, including the high-profile collapse of the FTX exchange. Teams are now seeking the perceived stability and less controversial branding offered by established industries, such as the cruise sector, which has recently seen a resurgence. Major cruise companies like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian have all enjoyed significant stock gains, making them attractive partners for sports franchises.
Despite the caution exhibited by the sports world, the crypto industry continues to grow and evolve. Bitwise, a player in the cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund (ETF) market, has set a new precedent by becoming the first spot Bitcoin ETF to publicly list its BTC addresses. This move towards greater transparency is a positive development for the industry, which is often criticized for its opaque nature. It also reflects a growing trend of increased public scrutiny and the demand for accountability within the crypto space.
While some sports teams are stepping back from crypto, global ownership and adoption of cryptocurrencies are on an upward trajectory. In 2023, the number of crypto owners rose by 34%, with Bitcoin and Ethereum leading the charge. By the end of the year, the industry boasted an impressive 580 million owners worldwide. This growth indicates that despite setbacks and negative news, such as government BTC sales and ETF outflows, the appetite for digital currencies remains strong among investors and the general public.
For sports teams and businesses, the current trend suggests a cautious approach towards crypto sponsorships, favoring partnerships with more traditional and stable industries. However, for those invested in the crypto market, the increased transparency and continued growth in ownership signal a maturing industry that is still expanding its reach. As the landscape continues to evolve, both industries may find new ways to coexist and benefit from each other's strengths.