Spanish Regulator Clashes with Footballer Andres Iniesta over Binance

The market regulator in Spain has chided one of the football heroes of the country for promoting Binance, the digital asset platform, through social media. This comes at a time when crypto companies throughout the world are trying to reach sports fans. The winning goal in the 2010 World Cup victory of Spain was scored by Andres Iniesta. The footballer posted photos on Twitter of himself while using the Binance platform, which prompted the National Securities Market Commission to respond to him. Late on Wednesday, the watchdog reminded Iniesta via a tweet that crypto-assets had some relevant risks because they were unregulated products.

The regulator has expressed concerns about sportspeople and other ‘influencers’ promoting these digital assets to audiences that may not really understand how the markets work and whether regulations, if any, are applicable. The intervention of the Spanish watchdog comes as there is a boom in promotions of crypto tokens and exchanges in the sports world. Crypto.com, the crypto exchange headquartered in Singapore, made an agreement last week to pay a whopping $700 million for naming rights for 20 years at the Los Angeles arena. It is the home to the Lakers basketball team. The commission said that influencers and celebrities need to ‘take care’ when they are recommending investments in such unregulated products that carry additional risks.

The watchdog said that this had prompted them to respond to Iniesta, who they greatly admire, because they believe it is his responsibility to mention the risks to his followers as well. Iniesta plays for a Japanese Club named Vissel Kobe that belongs to Rakuten and the latter also has a crypto exchange. On Thursday, a report highlighted that around 4.4 million Spaniards have made investments in cryptocurrencies and about 41% of these people regard these digital assets as safe. 

It should be noted that Iniesta is certainly not the only footballer to have endorsed Binance on social media. Luis Suarez, the striker for Atletico Madrid, James Rodriguez hailing from Colombia and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ player Raul Jimenez all also posted similar images relating to Binance. The crypto exchange itself had referred to the three footballers last in a week in a post meant to promote a social media contest. The total number of followers of the three footballers combined is around 39 million. Binance stated that they were in agreement with the sentiments put forward by the Spanish regulator.

The social media intervention by the Spanish regulator echoes the efforts of the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and other watchdogs for restraining influencers from promoting crypto and warning young investors in particular about the risks associated with digital assets. An online marketing campaign has been launched by the UK regulator using advertisements on TikTok for this purpose. Last month, the director of markets for the FCA, Sarah Pritchard said that they believed they were not reaching this target audience and had to get through to them. Therefore, she added that they were using the mechanisms these people use in order to communicate with them.