Ads watchdog slams Arsenal football club for crypto ad

Ads watchdog slams Arsenal football club for crypto ad

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has reprimanded Arsenal Football Club for promoting crypto assets.

In a ruling published today (August 10), the ASA told the club that adverts for “fan tokens” must not appear again as they adverts did not correctly illustrate the risk of the investment.

The advert did not make it clear that the tokens were crypto assets, were irresponsible because they took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and “trivialised” crypto asset investment, the ASA said.

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“We told Arsenal Football Club to ensure that they made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in paid-for fan tokens was variable and as crypto assets they were unregulated,” the ASA said in the ruling.

The ruling related to a post on Facebook and Arsenal’s website on August 12 last year which encouraged fans to buy “$AFC fan token” and included a video of footballers Ben White, Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney.

The website included a webpage published six days earlier with the title “$AFC fan token: everything you need to know” and outlined the “benefits” the token offered. 

The “fan tokens” being offered are crypto assets.

It included that the tokens are bought with the cryptocurrency Chiliz, with a warning that the value of “fan tokens” is dependent on supply and demand, and can go up as well as down, and you can lose some or all of your money invested. 

In its response to the ASA’s challenge, Arsenal said it believed fan tokens and their relationship with cryptocurrency was widely understood by the target audience.

“Arsenal believed Socios [the platform Chiliz can be purchased from] was well known in the footballing community as a cryptocurrency platform because they sponsored and partnered with a number of European football clubs.”

The club said it partnered with Scoios to provide fans with access to a digital platform where they could interact with one-another and collect the tokens which allowed them to influence and engage with club decisions.

Senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, Susannah Streeter, said the ASA is “wearing the referee shirt” in the game of crypto trading.

“ASA officials are faced with the task of running the line, assessing every complaint against companies, but with scant other regulation governing crypto assets, and so many flags springing up it’s becoming an increasingly difficult play to monitor,” she said. 

Streeter added that the ruling is another “stark reminder” that investors shouldn’t put money into assets they don’t understand, and should only speculate with money they can afford to lose.

“It also highlights the need to speed up the plan to give the city watchdog – the Financial Conduct Authority more powers to regulate the crypto industry, given the government’s vision to make the UK a crypto hub.”