Many sports clubs worldwide have been cooperating with the world of cryptocurrencies for a long time. It has become an ideal type of sponsorship and has given impetus to the emergence of new kinds of promotions. So, various projects are known with individual players and entire clubs or stadium owners. However, the NFL stood out sharply from its background when in 2021, it banned its members from collaborating with the crypto world and making money on NFT projects. The ice has gradually broken, and the organization slowly begins to lift severe restrictions.
What restrictions have been put in place?
In September 2021, the NFL categorically banned its players from any earnings in the blockchain industry. They were forbidden to enter into any advertising projects and sell cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
It is worth noting that even before such a strict ban, some individual players managed to start cooperation with cryptocurrency organizations. So for example, Kansas City player Sean Culkin became the first person to receive a salary in Bitcoins in April 2021. Also, in June, Tom Brady became a shareholder of the FTX crypto exchange. By the way, this exchange also signed a contract for 19 years to rename the NBA club “Miami Heat” stadium in “FTX Arena.”
But, after a ban by the NFL, all such projects were suspended or terminated. The players understood that they could be expelled from the league for extending their cooperation with the world of cryptocurrencies.
Among the well-known players who were interested in cooperation with cryptocurrency organizations in 2021:
- Aaron Rodgers;
- Tom Brady;
- Odell Beckham Jr.;
- Trevor Lawrence;
- Saquon Barkley and many others.
The main explanation for this categorical decision is that the league wants to create clear rules that will govern this process.
Many leading players were disappointed with this decision, as they saw cryptocurrency companies as reliable sponsors and advertising partners. In addition, some European football clubs, such as Barcelona, had already announced the release of their NFT collection by that time. Fans snapped up most of the tokens in the first days of sales, despite their relatively high cost (compared to other NFTs).
What is allowed today?
The NFL is not ready today to remove all the restrictions that have been associated with the crypto industry. However, this is starting to lift the curtain gradually.
So, recently the NFL allowed the search for sponsors in the field of blockchain but at the same time retained the restriction that applies to cryptocurrencies. On the one hand, this is a tiny step, but many hope it can give a new impetus to building relations between these two worlds.
It is worth noting that players and teams still cannot cooperate with various crypto projects, including creating fan tokens.
There are also restrictions on contracts with blockchain sponsors. So, you can agree for not more than three years. It is because the team must remain flexible in the choice of subsequent partners.
The central paradox of this situation is that the NFL allowed some cryptocurrency exchanges (Coinbase, FTX, Crypto.com) to advertise during the Super Bowl.
One commercial for 30 seconds costs crypto exchanges about 6.5 million USD. Such promotions helped the businesses to increase traffic by several times, due to which the Coinbase website was unavailable for several minutes. It led to a lot of criticism from the exchange users, as it spent huge sums on the promotion but didn’t take care to keep the system up and to run.
In general, it is not entirely clear why competition organizers can create advertising projects with cryptocurrency exchanges, but players and teams cannot.