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Football billionaire Ronaldo: "Incredibly successful" promoted for Binance

Photo: Amr Nabil / dpa

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is facing a class-action lawsuit for promoting the ailing cryptocurrency exchange Binance. The plaintiffs are seeking at least $1 billion in damages in federal court in the Southern District of Florida. They claim that Ronaldo's promotion of Binance was "misleading and unlawful." Ronaldo has used his role as an idol to lure them into costly and uncertain investments.

"The evidence proves that Binance's fraud involving the sale of unregistered securities could only reach such a scale with the help of some of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most recognized organizations and celebrities around the world," the lawsuit states. Representatives of the multiple world footballer declined to comment on Thursday. Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, also did not respond to requests for comment.

Increase in searches as proof

Ronaldo launched his first NFT collection »CR7« together with Binance in November last year before the start of the World Cup. The NFTs – with starting prices ranging from the equivalent of about $77 to $10,000 – featured seven animated figures depicting Ronaldo in iconic moments of his life. The lawsuit, filed on Monday, states that the NFTs have been "incredibly successful" in promoting Binance – as evidence, the plaintiffs present evaluations that suggest a dramatic increase in online searches with the keyword "Binance". So-called premium-level pieces of the collection were sold out within the first week, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges that Ronaldo should have disclosed how much Binance paid him for the partnership. She is referring to a note from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that celebrities are required by federal law to disclose how much they receive for promoting securities, including cryptocurrencies.

NFTs are ordinary digital images with a version number attached to them added to a cryptocurrency, a process designed to make them "unique" collectibles. NFTs experienced a brief boom. However, after several scandals and insolvencies of cryptocurrency providers, the majority of them are hardly worth anything anymore.

Four-billion-dollar settlement

Over the summer, banking regulators accused Binance of operating as an unregistered securities exchange and violating a number of U.S. securities laws, including promoting money laundering. Its founder, Changpeng Zhao, agreed to a settlement of around $4 billion and stepped down as CEO after a guilty plea last week.

Ronaldo is not the first to go to court for unfair advertising of cryptocurrencies. Last year, for example, Larry David and Tom Brady were named as defendants in a class-action lawsuit against FTX. FTX was the second-largest crypto exchange before it collapsed in November 2022. The plaintiffs argue that the celebrities are responsible for promoting FTX's failed business model because of their status.

Ronaldo is one of the most famous and richest athletes in the world. He played for Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United and is now ending his career – well paid – at Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.

Ronaldo still hasn't given up promoting Binance on his official website and social networks. A few days ago, he announced a joint action with the crypto exchange on X (formerly known as Twitter).