It was with great fanfare that Paris Saint-Germain announced on Friday September 10 the signing of a new sponsorship contract with Crypto.com. The Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange, with 122 million users worldwide, is one of the major players in the industry. According to L’Équipe, the contract would cover 25 to 30 million euros per season to appear as “the official cryptocurrency platform” of Lionel Messi’s new club. Except that there could be a regulatory “hiccup”.
According to the Consumer Code, “any sponsorship operation (sports sponsorship falls within this framework, editor’s note) or patronage is prohibited when its object or effect is advertising, direct or indirect, in favor (… ) services on digital assets”. For Crypto.com to appear in France as a sponsor of PSG, the company must hold an “approval” as a digital asset service provider (PSAN) issued by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
This one is very hard to get and no company has ever had it. It differs from the simpler, more flexible PSAN “registration” issued to 22 crypto companies so far. Crypto.com has neither, but PSG seem to have found a trick to claim the juicy contract.
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Crypto.com invisible to French viewers
The Crypto.com logo was not visible to French viewers when the PSG-Clermont match was broadcast on Saturday on Amazon Prime Video. Nevertheless, banner ads in the company’s colors were visible to those watching the match via a foreign broadcaster, whose country was more tolerant of companies in the cryptocurrency sector.
“There was no visibility given to Crypto.com on the match in France, we use the Digital Overlay system which makes it possible to adapt the content of the LEDs to the broadcasters, explains a spokesperson for PSG, Crypto.com has thus been able to appear in the countries in which it is authorized”.
Information confirmed by Eric Anziani, director of operations of Crypto.com: “While waiting for our PSAN application to be approved by the AMF, our logo at the edge of the pitch is only visible during broadcasts made outside of France”.
“Technically, this technology allows us to sign what we call regional sponsors, that is to say partners who communicate in very specific territories”, continues the club. “For the club it is an important potential source of income, because all the sponsors do not wish to communicate in a global way”, he indicates.
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It remains to be seen what the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) will say, because the Crypto.com logo appears among the club’s other partners on its website. A source familiar with the matter tells Capital that a legal analysis has been opened at the AMF. But the club denies targeting the French public.
PSG indicates that the press release was written exclusively in English. Furthermore, the partnership was announced exclusively on the club’s English-speaking Twitter account. The announcement of the partnership was not published in French on the official PSG.fr website.
Crypto.com had already been slapped on the fingers last March because it offered advertising aimed at the French public without a PSAN registration. As a result, she was briefly placed on the AMF’s blacklist until she announced that she intended to file a case with the regulator. Six months later, it has still not been validated. For William O’Rorke, partner at the Parisian law firm ORWL, specializing in the law of disruptive technologies, “the announcement of the partnership with PSG could complicate the continuation of negotiations with the AMF”.