Visa Acceptance Solutions 2024 Global Digital Shopping Index February 2024 Banner

Soccer’s Cristiano Ronaldo Faces $1 Billion Lawsuit Over Binance Promotion

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly being sued for promoting embattled cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

The $1 billion class-action suit, filed last week in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that Ronaldo “promoted, assisted in, and/or actively participated in the offer and sale of unregistered securities in coordination with Binance,” Coindesk reported Friday (Dec. 1).

According to the report, the suit was filed on behalf of “consumers who purchased unregistered securities offered or sold by Binance.” Lead plaintiff Michael Sizemore allegedly bought unregistered securities from Binance, and the suit blames Ronaldo for encouraging investors to purchase unregistered securities.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, was sued in June by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly acting as an unregistered exchange. 

More recently, Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle charges brought by U.S. prosecutors related to accusations that it violated sanctions and money-transmitting laws. Changpeng Zhao, the company’s co-founder and former CEO, has agreed to plead guilty to separate charges and has stepped down from the company.

“Mr. Ronaldo’s promotions were published on public websites, television and social media accounts accessible to plaintiffs nationwide, including in Florida,” the lawsuit says, per Coindesk. “On information and belief, in exchange for his services, Mr. Ronaldo received a substantial total compensation package which likely included compensation in the form of digital assets transmitted through the Binance platforms.”

Ronaldo teamed up with Binance last year to create a non-fungible token (NFT) collection that featured animated figures depicting highlights from his career.

“My relationship with the fans is very important to me, so the idea of bringing unprecedented experiences and access through this NFT platform is something that I wanted to be a part of,” the soccer star said at the time.

This isn’t the first time the intersection of sports and cryptocurrency has led to legal action. After FTX collapsed last year, a number of investors sued several athletes — and other celebrities — that had promoted the company.

And last week, the plaintiffs in that case expanded the legal action to include Major League Baseball, Formula 1 racing, and Mercedes-Benz Group AG’s racing team, alleging these entities aided and abetted the fraud orchestrated by FTX.