FIFA, an international governing body for many major soccer tournaments, has announced that cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com will be an official sponsor of its next World Cup in Qatar.
In a Wednesday announcement, the association said Crypto.com’s branding will appear both inside and outside of stadiums for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 scheduled to begin in November. The crypto exchange will provide opportunities for its users to attend matches and win official merchandise as part of the sponsorship.
According to FIFA chief commercial officer Kay Madati, the deal will help grow the games “on a global scale,” citing Crypto.com’s partnerships with other entities around the world. In November, the exchange inked a deal to rename the Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment venue Staples Center to the Crypto.com Arena for 20 years. Crypto.com has also partnered with the Australia Football League in a $25 million deal, signed a $100-million sponsorship agreement with Formula 1 and inked a 10-year $175 million sponsorship agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Though trading cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC) has been largely illegal in Qatar since the country’s central bank announced a ban in 2018 — and reaffirmed in January 2020 by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority — Crypto.com is likely to reach a more international crowd given the popularity of soccer on the world stage. FIFA reported that more than 3.5 billion people watched the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with more than a billion watching the final between France and Croatia.
With less than eight months until the World Cup begins, the event has been shadowed by allegations of corruption and bribery going back to the bidding process for Qatar 2022. In April 2020, the United States Department of Justice indicted three individuals connected to “the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks” for FIFA’s selection of countries to host the World Cup, including in Russia in 2018 and the upcoming tournament in Qatar. In addition, the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has alleged abuse and slavelike conditions for workers hired to build the infrastructure for the event.