Spanish watchdog confronts footballer Andrés Iniesta over Binance tweet

The Spanish market regulator berated one of the country’s soccer heroes for promoting the Binance digital asset platform, in a social media exchange that comes at a time when crypto companies are struggling to reach the sports fans around the world.

The National Securities Market Commission responded to Andrés Iniesta, who scored the game-winning goal in Spain’s 2010 World Cup victory, after posting photos of him on Twitter apparently using the Binance platform.

The watchdog’s tweet, sent out Wednesday evening, reminded Iniesta that “cryptoassets, as unregulated commodities, pose significant risks.”

The regulator told the Financial Times that he was concerned that sportsmen and other “influencers” would promote cryptocurrencies to an audience that did not necessarily understand how the market worked or what regulations applied or did not apply. did not apply.

The Spanish watchdog’s intervention comes as promotions from crypto exchanges and tokens in the sport have exploded. Singapore-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange last week agreed to pay $ 700 million for 20-year naming rights in the Los Angeles arena home to the team of Lakers basketball.

The commission urged celebrities and influencers to “take care” to recommend “investments in unregulated products that pose additional risks to [the] Public “.

“All this led us last night to say to Iniesta, whom we admire and who brought us great joy, please, before recommending this, tell your followers the risks; it is also your responsibility, ”said the watchdog.

Rakuten – which owns Vissel Kobe, the Japanese club Iniesta plays for – owns a crypto exchange itself. Representatives of Iniesta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In reports released Thursday, the Spanish Association of Financial Users, a nonprofit consumer protection organization, estimated based on a survey that more than 4.4 million Spaniards have invested in crypto currencies and 41% of them considered cryptocurrencies to be safe.

Iniesta isn’t the only well-known footballer to have released an endorsement for Binance. Raúl Jiménez, who plays for Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers, Colombian player James Rodríguez and Atlético Madrid striker Luis Suárez all posted images of themselves featuring Binance earlier this month. under the hashtag #BinanceForAll.

The crypto exchange referenced the three sports stars in a post last week promoting a social media contest: “Get creative with @jamesdrodriguez, @ LuisSuarez9, @ Raul_Jimenez9 on #Binance and you could win, ”the group’s main account on Twitter said.

The three footballers have a total of 39 million followers on Twitter.

Representatives for Jiménez, Rodríguez and Suárez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Binance said: “We totally agree with the sentiment of the Spanish regulator.”

The Spanish regulator’s intervention on social media echoes efforts by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and other oversight bodies to restrict influencers promoting crypto and warn particularly young investors of the risks of crypto. digital assets.

The UK regulator has launched an £ 11million online marketing campaign, using TikTok ads and a partnership with Olympic BMX gold champion Charlotte Worthington, to warn young investors about risky investments.

“This is a target audience that we fear we may not reach,” said Sarah Pritchard, FCA executive director of markets, last month. “We don’t communicate through the mechanism that they use and that influences them.”

Spain’s securities commission said the country’s government has asked it to regulate crypto advertising while the EU awaits block-wide regulation for crypto as a whole. But the commission has not yet officially assumed these powers because Spain’s advertising regulations have not yet entered into force.

“We realize that we are not going to reach the new audience – young people or 30-45 year olds – with press releases and releases, so we are trying to use other channels, formats, even a other kind of language, ”the commission said. noted.

Video: Cryptocurrencies: How regulators have lost control

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