Cristiano Ronaldo signs NFT deal with crypto exchange Binance

Portuguese striker’s sponsorship move comes despite crypto facing warnings of a ‘Lehman moment’

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of football’s biggest stars, has inked a sponsorship deal with crypto exchange Binance, becoming the latest celebrity to strike a lucrative partnership with a digital asset firm despite the crisis gripping the sector.

The legendary Portuguese footballer, whose career has spanned Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid, will work with Binance to create a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that will be sold exclusively by the exchange.

Ronaldo’s crypto deal comes as the price of Bitcoin has fallen more than 70 per cent from its peak last autumn, wiping out five years of gains for investors. The sell-off has triggered a crisis for some of the digital asset industry’s largest traders and lenders, prompting warnings of a “Lehman moment” for the sector.

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

Digital asset companies have become some of the biggest sponsors of sports stars and franchises during the recent crypto boom, with multimillion-dollar deals including’s $700mn renaming of Los Angeles’ main arena and celebrity TV advertisements at the Super Bowl.

Crypto prices have continued to tumble from their highs last November despite the millions spent to attract new investors. Punters who bought Bitcoin after the February Super Bowl would be nursing a 50 per cent loss. The decline in prices and slowdown in trading has hit the revenues of crypto exchanges.

Major exchanges Coinbase, Gemini and are among many to announce lay-offs in recent weeks. However, Binance has said it remains financially healthy and is pushing ahead with a hiring spree and more splashy deals.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world’s best footballers, and has transcended sport to become an icon in multiple industries,” said Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao.

Ronaldo’s great rival, Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina, became a global brand ambassador for crypto fan token company Socios in March.