Cryptocurrencies have come a long way since the release of Bitcoin in 2009. The original cryptocurrency was initially considered to be nothing more than a short-lived fad. Only a select few tech-savvy people understood it and used it on a regular basis.

Then in the early 2010s, came the black markets and darknet popularity, where users proceeded to buy BNB only to spend it on illegal drugs or medications found online. Today, the popularity of cryptocurrencies has spread to the mainstream public. People can use crypto to purchase almost anything online, and even institutional investors consider them as sound financial assets.

And with their popularity rising, many opportunities for sponsorships in sports are rising. While crypto has been omnipresent in sports over its short history, this presence is picking up considerably in the past couple of years. In this article, we take a look at some historically important crypto sponsorships. We also examine some recent sponsorships and how tokenization can help clubs reward fans.

Short history of crypto sponsorships in sports

Cryptocurrency sponsorships have been very important for spreading awareness of the ecosystem to the wide public. There are two instance of crypto sponsorships that are worth mentioning that stirred things up in the early days of crypto:

  • Dogecoin community sponsors a NASCAR driver - one of the first instances of crypto sponsorships is when the Dogecoin community (2014) raised $55.000 to allow driver Josh Wise to race. His car was adorned with the now-popular Dogecoin logo.
  • Bitpay sponsors KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) on NASCAR - Bitpay, a company that facilitates crypto payments sponsored another NASCAR stable as early as 2015.
  • With that said after these initial sponsorships, popularity kind of winded down for a couple of years. However, the following sponsorships would be much more significant and will have a larger impact as a whole.

    Etoro and the premier league sponsorships

    Etoro is a multi-asset trading platform that also includes cryptocurrencies in its portfolio. They allow users to easily trade with stocks, commodities, but also crypto. Consequently, we can’t point out Etoro as a full-crypto sponsor. However, it’s worth mentioning because of the enormous reach it has on millions of people.

    In 2018, at the peak of crypto’s popularity during that bullish cycle, Etoro made a deal with no less than 7 different Premier League clubs. These included Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Newcastle United, and Southampton.

    The deal is estimated to have cost between 5 and 10 million GBP, which at the time was a huge increase over previous sponsorships in crypto. What’s even more interesting is that these partnerships were paid in Bitcoin. Considering the price of bitcoin then, this deal would be worth more than 10x in Bitcoin today!

    The UK managing director boasted by declaring: “ We make history by being the first company ever to pay for a Premier League partnership in bitcoin”. becomes the biggest crypto sports sponsor worldwide

    With all that in mind, has dwarfed all of these efforts thanks to the latest deals made in 2021. This cryptocurrency exchange based in Hong Kong signed not one but two multi-million dollar sponsorships with two of the most popular sports on the planet - mixed martial arts and racing.

    The deal with the UFC is worth more than $175 million and it will last for 10 years, ensuring brand visibility in the octagon. But while the UFC is no stranger to cryptocurrency sponsorships recently made the news by ensuring another high-profile sponsorship with Formula 1.

    For $100 million, the crypto exchange received some top-tier advertising slots during the British GP. Moreover, the company has closed a deal with Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team in March 2021.

    Chilliz and Socios - Fan tokens for rewards

    However, it’s not all about sponsorships. The blockchain industry, and more specifically NFTs, have provided a way for a new way of making money and rewarding fans.

    The cryptocurrency platform Socios, for instance, allows clubs to create their tokens and reward fans with them. Fans can buy these tokens or receive them as rewards, which, in turn, can be sold for real money or exchanged for merchandise.

    Dozens of football clubs have already joined the movement, including high-profile ones like Arsenal, FC Barcelona, Juventus, and Manchester City.

    Concluding thoughts

    While sponsorships in crypto are rising, the biggest contributors still remain crypto exchanges. This is understandable as these platforms have the most interest in legitimizing the industry and push it towards mainstream acceptance. Many crypto companies are developing their brands and using sports to imprint them into people’s minds by using sports sponsorships.

    However, the benefits to the industry are much more widespread. With NFTs and fan-tokens clubs can reward their fans for their loyalty with digital collectibles or straight out cash rewards in crypto.

    Author's Bio: 

    Acquiring a wealth of experience in writing articles on trends and prospects for the development of the game industry in the world I've found myself as a Freelance Journalist. I am writing now about blockchain and cryptocurrencies trends, sometimes covering the importance of bitcoin for various other industries.