Ronaldo Sued in $1 Billion Lawsuit for Backing Binance Digital Product in Ads

Cristiano Ronaldo playing soccer

One of the most recognized names in sports is being sued along what is considered the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange for more than $1 billion for “deceptively” promoting digital art known as non-fungible tokens.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese soccer player long considered one of the greatest to ever play the game, is depicted in seven poses in a Binance non-fungible token (NFT) collection offered for sale.

Ronaldo, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, pledged to “change the NFT game and take football to the next level” in promotions for the product. He had announced a tie-in with Binance in November 2022.

What Is Alleged

The Athletic, which went through the 130-page lawsuit, reported on Nov. 30 that “investors claim Ronaldo is responsible for them losing their money because, they say, the fact he was promoting his collaborative NFT collection with Binance materially misled them into believing that other crypto assets held on the platform were safe and were not being invested in unregistered securities when, they claim, that was not the case. They say Ronaldo knew or ought to have known this and that in promoting Binance, without disclosing how much he was being paid for doing so, he engaged in ‘unfair and deceptive practices.’”

The founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Seattle on Nov. 20 and stepped down as the company’s CEO as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Zhao said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that he had “made mistakes” and “must take responsibility.” 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press conference after Zhao’s guilty plea that the fine is “one of the largest penalties we have ever obtained.”

“Using new technology to break the law does not make you a disruptor. It makes you a criminal,” Garland said. “Binance prioritized its profits over the safety of the American people,” he said.

Unprecedented Ronaldo NFT

Buyers of what was billed as the super, super rare Unprecedented Ronaldo NFT were offered a virtual meet-and-great with the soccer superstar, an NFT statue of him with his signature, a Ronaldo-autographed Binance shirt and other merchandise and perks. The Binance blog promoting the R0naldo NFTs said there were only seven “Unprecedenteds” in existence.

In a tie-in to a video ad posted on Instagram, Ronaldo says: “Myself and #Binance are giving away 50,000 free surprises!
“And one lucky winner will win the golden ticket — a trip to train with me in person. …
Click the link in my story to get involved!”

As for the lawsuit involving Ronaldo, Jemma Fleetwood, a digital asset specialist lawyer, told The Athletic: “Given the level of damages claimed, it will likely be difficult for [Ronaldo] to settle this case at an early stage and so the matter could eventually reach a trial where the parties would be required to publicly give evidence on the case.”