Crypto Corner: The Sports Slice

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  • December 18, 2022

One of the biggest stages in sports is approaching it’s final match, as France and Argentina are set to face off in a storyline matchup on Sunday. Argentinian Lionel Messi sets to bring home his first World Cup championship despite a storied career, but will need to overcome a powerful France squad that has given up just a single goal throughout the tournament.

Meanwhile, crypto partnerships in sport seem to have a damper on them that hasn’t been seen since pre-2021 bull run, before big dollar spending in sport sponsorship was nearly as prominent as it is today.

As the market has cooled, so too have the sports deals. Let’s take a look at the activity across sports and crypto over the past week.

The Sports Slice

Red Bull Racing Closes The Door On Tezos Partnerships

Tezos is seemingly no longer a partner of Red Bull Racing, according to a SportsPro report this week. While little has come to light around the partnership, the blockchain is no longer listed on the racing team’s website, and Tezos branding – which was previously boasted across the F1 vehicle – was noticeably absent at a recent showing.

While SportsPro innocently compares the sudden seemingly terminated deal to that of Mercedes’ and FTX, a blockchain is substantially different than a centralized exchange. Nonetheless, the deal likely signals a risk-mitigation tactic from the racing club to reduce crypto exposure (as they also have an existing partnership with exchange Bybit).

Other variables could certainly be at play, but to suggest anything more would be pure unsubstantiated speculation.

Tezos (XTZ) is seemingly no longer a partner of Red Bull Racing. | Source: XTZ-USD on TradingView.com

Bear Market Move Aside: Decentralized Sports Betting Firm Raises Nearly $5M

Frontrunner, a decentralized sports betting platform, has raised $4.75M in it’s latest capital funding round, led by Susquehanna Private Equity Investments this past week.

Speculative gambling markets and crypto degens go hand-in-hand. Frontrunner has found success through a slick UI that positions gambling odds in easy-to-digest fashion, while offering lines across some of the biggest sports leagues on the globe.

Frontrunner is built on COSMOS and just launched it’s testnet in Q3, with cross-chain ambitions. In an interview with TechCrunch, Frontrunner CEO Neil Zhang spoke directly to this element:

“The majority of our competitors thus far are in the Solana ecosystem. But we have really had more of a multi chain type vision of the long term vision of our products. And so we’ve chosen first to be in the cosmos ecosystem, which we are really bullish on in terms of the interchain operability and some of the multi chain technologies that are being built there.”

Shaq Is The Latest To Face Criticism Over FTX Ambassadorship

NBA Hall of Fame icon Shaquille O’Neal is known for his dominant career on the floor, and his business moves off the court.

“I’m all in,” he said about FTX in an advertisement. Hindsight can be 20/20, as O’Neal joined sports icons like Tom Brady, Steph Curry, Naomi Osaka and others in advocating for FTX earlier this year. Mainstream publications have taken hold to a clip of O’Neal saying that he “doesn’t really understand crypto” in recent months, despite appearing in promotional assets for FTX previously.

Regardless, it’s most likely that none of the stars knew any more than we did about FTX’s business standing until it all crumbled down; what’s most important is how they react moving forward.

Steph Curry, Serena Williams, And Others Cited In Bored Ape Lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit filed against prominent Bored Ape Yacht Club holders including NBA star Steph Curry and tennis legend Serena Williams has made headlines over the past week.

Two plaintiffs believe that BAYC creators Yuga Labs utilized athletes, entertainers and influencers to promote the NFT project without appropriate disclosures. The federal court filing states that:

“… the company’s entire business model relies on using insidious marketing and promotional activities from A-list celebrities that are highly compensated without disclosing such, to increase demand of the Yuga securities by convincing potential retail investors that the price of these digital assets would appreciate.”

It’s a difficult slate in particular for Curry, who was also named in an FTX class-action, and who is now sidelined with a shoulder injury that will likely hold him back from the upcoming Christmas Day slate of games – which is notoriously one of the biggest days of action each NBA season.

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