Hot Topic: Are fintech and crypto companies taking over sports sponsorship?

On the Grill: Bruno Diaz, ISL Sponsorship Director

In May this year, FTX became the first cryptocurrency exchange to sponsor a professional sports arena in the United States – the Miami Heat Arena.

In June, Valencia CF signed an innovative shirt sponsorship deal with, the blockchain-based fan engagement platform. also replaced Pirelli as front-jersey sponsor of Serie A champions Inter Milan.

In September, Inter Miami CF revealed the club’s first-ever jersey sponsor, announcing a multi-year partnership with XBTO, a world leader in cryptofinance, also compromised with creating stability for the crypto market. 

The jersey partnership is among the biggest deals in MLS to date, and marks the first cryptofinance partnership deal in the league. 

Will it be the first of many? 

Are cryptofinance and fintech companies taking over the sports sponsorship industry? 

We asked ISL Sponsorship Director, Bruno Diaz, what were his thoughts on this new sponsorship trend and how it can impact the industry. 

  1. What did you think of this year’s announcements about Fintech and Crypto companies entering sports sponsorship with millionaire deals?

It is a new sector with millions of potential clients – investing in cryptocurrency is something that has been captivating consumers for over a decade now, since the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. 

The new wave of Fintech and Crypto companies entering sports sponsorship reminds me of when the betting industry entered the sports world. Everyone still remembers Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the Bwin jersey for Real Madrid!

  1. In your opinion, why did FTX, and XBTO close sports sponsorship deals?

Apart from generating credibility, being present on a sports entity gives the brand access to the club’s audience and fans – it is a fast and efficient way to increase brand knowledge. 

For top cryptocurrency companies like FTX and XBTO, it is also very helpful to expand their message to the general public, engage new audiences and increase their interest in cryptocurrency

  1. Who are the traditional sports/soccer sponsorship companies?

Over the last years the most traditional sectors in the world of sports sponsorship have been: banking, insurances, beers and soft drinks, airlines, the automotive industry, and most recently, betting companies and videogames.

  1. Do fintech/crypto companies have more resources available to invest in sports sponsorship than the traditional sports sponsors?

No industry has infinite resources. However, the percentage of the budget dedicated to marketing is higher in some industries, and so are the investment rounds. Which is why we are seeing startups with a big visibility in relevant sports entities – jersey sponsor, naming sponsor, etc. 

  1. Do you think traditional sports sponsors feel threatened by fintech/crypto sponsorships?

I don’t think they feel threatened, even if the fintech/crypto companies occupy spaces that otherwise could have been for another brand. But I believe all industries can coexist without conflict in the sponsoring world. Our job as marketing and sponsoring specialists is exactly to make everyone happy by  guaranteeing that all brands are able to transmit their message to the fans through their sponsorships.

  1. Do you think more fintech/crypto companies will enter sports sponsorship? Why?

Yes, absolutely. When a sector generates good financial results, other players show up and try to overcome the first ones. Which is why we are already seeing different fintech and crypot companies entering the market. 

  1. How do you see the soccer sponsorship industry in 10 years? Will there be a clear dominance of fintech/crypto sponsorships, will it be balanced with the traditional sports sponsors, or will fintech/crypto lose interest in the industry?

Considering the market trends I believe the potential of fintech and crypto companies will keep getting stronger. This will force the “traditional sectors” to be more creative in how to reach their target audiences. 

I believe the future of sports sponsorship will be balanced and that most likely in 10 years we will again be seeing new sectors on sports jerseys. 

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