Arsenal fan token posts broke advertising rules

A website and Facebook post by soccer club Arsenal promoting cryptocurrency-based fan tokens broke advertising rules, a watchdog ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) argued that the club “failed to illustrate investment risk.”

It stated that “the advertisements must not reappear in the denounced form.”

Arsenal said they will seek an independent review of the ruling, adding that the club had provided information on financial risks.

Several top-tier soccer clubs offer fan tokens.

But critics, including some fan groups, suggest that clubs promoting crypto fan tokens are encouraging people to participate in the risky, and largely unregulated, world of investing in cryptocurrencies.

Inexperienced consumers
The ASA ruled against two Arsenal fan chip promotions ($ AFC).

The first infringement, according to the watchdog, targeted the content of Arsenal’s official website, in particular a page published on August 6, 2021 with the title ‘$ AFC Fan Token: All you need to know’.

The second offense was a Facebook post on the club’s official page, posted on August 12, 2021, which read: ‘$ AFC is already live’ and asked fans: “What song do you want to hear when we win? the Partners application to get your file and vote “.

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Carefully Considered Communications
Arsenal football club told the BBC: “We take our responsibilities with regard to marketing to our fans very seriously.

“We carefully consider communications to fans regarding our promotions and provide information on financial risks.”

The Club said it would seek “an independent review of the ASA ruling to seek greater clarity on the current position of the ASA.”

In defending their marketing to the ASA, Arsenal argued that the website did include the warning that fans “could lose some or all of their invested money.”

He said the marketing material read: “We recommend that you spend only what you can afford and seek independent financial advice if necessary.”

The Club argued that the fan tokens were not promoted as an investment and did not encourage token trading.

Cryptocurrency boom
Arsenal are the first club whose fan chip marketing is judged by the watchdog as having violated advertising standards.

It is one of several clubs that have joined forces with a company called Socios, which offers fan tokens through its app.

Socios told the BBC’s Tech Tent podcast that it sold $ 270 million to $ 300 million worth of coins through its app, but declined to reveal how much money goes directly to the clubs it works with.

Responding to the recent ASA ruling, Socios said: “We welcome Arsenal’s call for an independent review. This is a fast-moving area and clarity is needed to ensure that all companies can adhere to the latest guidelines.”

Clubs say that by collecting fan tokens, fans can influence the operation of the club, suggesting that the more tokens fans collect, the more they say they might have.

‘High risk’
However, some groups of followers are cautious. In August, the Arsenal Supporters Trust said the club should make it clear that cryptocurrency is an “unregulated activity” and was risky.

Tim Payton, a member of the Trust’s board of directors, told the BBC that “clubs should not be allowed to use the popularity of football to promote an inherently high-risk product.”

The Trust believes that the government and soccer authorities should seek partnerships between clubs and cryptocurrency companies.

Payton said that if they are to continue, greater effort must be made to ensure that all marketing materials “inform all fans of the downsides involved in buying tokens.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says that monitoring crypto assets, such as Bitcoin, is a “red alert priority” and is concerned that many advertisements do not fully convey the risks of investing.

Guy Parker, the authority’s executive director, told the BBC that crypto assets were “poorly understood by the public” and were mostly unregulated and not backed by financial compensation schemes.

His message to consumers was “think carefully before you buy. Do you understand crypto assets well enough? Can you afford to lose what you have spent?”

The watchdog says it plans to issue guidance on crypto marketing in the new year, and will continue to issue rulings on NFT ads, cryptocurrencies, and fan tokens in the meantime.

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