By CCN.com: Crypto price-tracking website CoinMarketCap is sponsoring the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, an Israeli soccer team. And Israel’s most famous footballer, Yossi Benayoun, is a bitcoin investor. Benayoun retired from Beitar Jerusalem last month.
Luke Wagman, the CEO of CoinMarketCap, proudly touted the news on Twitter . A giddy Wagman even suggested that CoinMarketCap’s sporty new uniforms brought Beitar Jerusalem some good luck in a friendly match against Madrid.
Wagman tweeted: “Thrilled to be featured on the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club’s uniforms yesterday in their match versus Atlético Madrid. They won 2-1! It is exciting to see crypto getting more mainstream attention.”
Blockchain executive Alexandre Dreyfus congratulated Wagman, saying this is just the beginning.
Dreyfus tweeted: “Football and crypto ;) Getting there.”
The CoinMarketCap sponsorship is the latest example of the incremental merging of the crypto world with sports and pop culture. According to BlockTV, cryptocurrencies are slowly starting to “take over football” (video below).
On the surface, this might sound trivial. However, the implications are unmistakable: The increasing integration of crypto into mainstream culture is a sign that virtual currencies like bitcoin aren’t going away.
As CCN.com reported in July 2018, Gibraltar United became the first football team to pay its players in cryptocurrency. Getting paid in bitcoin is useful for foreign players who struggle to open bank accounts in Gibraltar. It also helps them avoid taxes and fees.
Other football teams in Europe have also embraced crypto. In September 2018, French soccer powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency under a partnership with Malta-based blockchain company Socios.
Paris Saint-Germain is one of the richest football clubs in the world. In 2017, the club paid a record $263 million to recruit Brazilian football star Neymar from Barcelona. That is the most expensive transfer fee in European football history.
Alex Dreyfus, the CEO of Socios and Chiliz, told CCN.com that he’s bringing other top soccer clubs into the crypto-sphere.
“We are focusing on on-boarding the biggest clubs in Europe,” Dreyfus said. “Outside of France, our priority is clubs in the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.”
In August 2018, Brazilian superstar Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (a.k.a. – Ronaldinho) launched an ambitious crypto project that aims to develop a betting platform and create virtual-reality stadiums that will include a blockchain database of fantasy football teams.
Then, four months later — in December 2018 — Brazilian football club Atletico Mineiro hopped on the crypto bandwagon when it announced plans to create a token for fans called “Galo Coins.”
Obviously, not all of these projects will succeed. But the fact that marquee stars in soccer — the most popular sport in the world, with 4 billion fans — are taking notice is a bullish sign for the industry.
And last week, the crypto community scored a major PR victory when it won mainstream media attention on the hit CBS News show “60 Minutes.” Being spotlighted on the popular news magazine program was a watershed moment for the budding ecosystem.
For reference, viewership for the May 12 episode of “60 Minutes” totaled 7.9 million.
By comparison, the May 19 bitcoin-focused episode scored 8.2 million total viewers. That’s a 14.29% ratings spike, courtesy of the “crypto bump.”