Arsenal FC Fan Token Ads Criticized by UK Regulator

The Advertising Standards Authority said the ads were irresponsible for trivializing investment in crypto assets.

Dec 22, 2021 at 9:40 a.m. UTC
Updated Dec 22, 2021 at 3:28 p.m. UTC

Arsenal FC, one of the U.K.’s top-ranking soccer clubs, received a reprimand from the country’s advertisement regulator for “irresponsible” and “misleading” promotion of its fan token, which was introduced on July 12 in partnership with Socios.

  • The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) criticized two ads, one on Facebook and the other on the club’s website.
  • The Facebook post, which appeared on Aug. 12, said supporters who owned the AFC token could vote on which song the club would play in the event of a victory. The website page appeared on Aug. 6, claiming to explain “Everything you need to know” about the token.
  • According the ASA, both were irresponsible for trivializing investment in crypto assets and failing to illustrate the investment risk. The Facebook post was misleading because it did not make it clear the fan tokens were crypto assets that had to be bought with cryptocurrency.
  • Arsenal said the tokens differed from cryptocurrencies, which are a means of payment, because they were designed for entertainment and to encourage fan participation. The tokens could not, at the time the ads appeared, be traded on the Socios app. The club also denied the ads were for cryptocurrency investments.
  • Increased promotions for cryptocurrencies and assets has drawn the attention of the ASA. Earlier this month the regulator censured ads by industry participants including Coinbase and eToro, as well a promotion by pizza chain Papa John’s.
  • Socios is the firm behind similar fan tokens for soccer teams including Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. Founded in 2019, it lists over 40 fan tokens on its website, with more expected to come.

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Sheldon Reback is a CoinDesk news editor based in London. He owns a small amount of ether.