Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fans will be the biggest losers in football’s unhealthy relationship with crypto and NFTs

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Clubs and players accept money to support crypto products from a dangerously unregulated market that many do not understand

Towards the end of the Squid Game Mania, a new cryptocurrency linked to the South Korean phenomenon of Netflix was introduced.

For the few remaining members of the world’s population who haven’t seen it, Squid Game is a gruesome thriller series that tells the story of a group of people drowning in debt, who are chosen to play a secret, deadly, chance-to-win game play a life changing fortune. It received mixed reviews in South Korea but sent Westerners who obviously couldn’t get enough of the idea of ​​poor people being sadistically murdered while desperately trying to pay off their debts.

In late October, Squid, a cryptocurrency that claimed to be playing an upcoming video game, began trading for a dime. Within a week, its value jumped to $ 2,856 (£ 2,125). It first came to my attention when a story popped up on my Google News feed explaining how the coin had increased in value by 45,000 percent.

That didn’t scream: Hurry, I have to invest now to ride the rest of this crypto wave! My first thought was: huh, that sounds pretty questionable. And so it turned out.

There were a couple of red flags – buyers unable to sell their tokens was a big problem, and the company’s website was full of typos and grammatical errors.

Then, a week after a company appeared out of nowhere and somehow convinced people to hand over millions, it was gone. The owners reportedly walked away with around £ 2.5million. It is known as “carpet drawing”.

Yet, while stories like this keep popping up, for some reason people can’t resist staring at that huge glowing piggy bank full of money and believing that if they just gamble one more time, this prize could be theirs. And soccer doesn’t help.

Players are quick to advertise dodgy schemes and NFTs – non-fungible tokens – that they are unaware of as large sponsorship deals lure clubs out of a dangerously unregulated market.

It is believed that crypto is slowly replacing the morally questionable but lucrative source of income from gambling sponsorship, and indeed many elements of gambling can be found in crypto-based “investments”.

The prospect that if bought now, their value could skyrocket in the coming months – or days, in the case of Squid Game crypto. The investment replicates the bet the player places on a bet. Wagering can bring great rewards or be lost. As with gambling, losses can keep getting higher – which leads to them being pursued. And losses can get out of hand, just like with a gambling addict.

Take the Dogecoin cryptocurrency, for example. Dogecoin was created in 2013 as a joke about the spectacular rise and fall in the value of cryptocurrencies. It’s an eight year old gag that found its way onto the sleeve of Premier League club Watford.

In early 2021, Dogecoin soared in value and caused an uproar online. Then it crashed, meaning those who got on when it was high will count the losses from a bad bet. The printing on Watford’s shirt adds a touch of legitimacy.

Likewise, soccer players are influencers – they were influencers before the term even existed – and in some cases they add authenticity to financial products that cannot get approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (and some have tried to escape only once the FCA started asking awkward questions ).

Some have no idea what they’re advocating while cashing their significant checks. To The athlete – who did an excellent job investigating this gritty, complex world – shared their concerns with Thiago Silva’s agents.

Ultimately, what all of this highlights is football’s insatiable obsession with money in particular, regardless of the consequences: the super-rich are still so eager for the next payday that they are ready to sign anything, no matter how harmful it might be.

The problem is, as the parable of Squid Game suggests, the fun and games of the rich can easily harm those who cannot afford it.

After Sky Sports News mentioned in this column a few weeks ago the BBC’s report on four-year-old Zayn Ali Salman scouted by Arsenal Academy, they made a clear decision that they didn’t want to be accused of missing out on the next big thing .

Last week SSN produced a two-minute contribution to “The next Lionel Messi?” – who happened to be a seven year old playing at the Liverpool Academy. Can we let these children grow up a little first?

It must be hard for ratings-tracking TV stations to evade the appeal of a child with 5.8 million followers on Instagram. That’s almost a million and a half more than Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, says the turtleneck presenter in the report. “I’m sorry Jordan, this is the world we live in,” he adds.

Pretty, and what a strange world it has become.

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