Soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo hosted an extraordinary training session in Lisbon in an innovative fusion of sports, web3 technology, and fan engagement.
This event was exclusive to a handful of fans, distinguished not just by their love for the game but by their possession of a special digital asset: the “golden ticket” CR7 NFTs, a part of the CR7 ForeverZone collection created in collaboration with major cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
A dream come true for many football fans, the initiative underscores the growing influence of NFTs in providing unique, real-world experiences, paving the way for a new era in sports fandom and digital asset utility.
However, it also comes against the backdrop of a $1 billion class action lawsuit filed in Florida this past November over Ronaldo’s promotion of the project, illustrating the legal and regulatory challenges that digital assets like NFTs still face in regions like the United States.
The day was meticulously planned, beginning with a morning briefing where the lucky NFT holders, clad in exclusive Binance training kits, prepared for the experience. The November event, captured in a video released today (Jan. 25), transcended the traditional meet-and-greet format. It was a full-scale training day where participants indulged in various soccer drills and skill-building exercises under Ronaldo’s expert guidance.
Activities ranged from penalty shootouts to intricate dribbling and shooting drills. There was also a personal Q&A session with Ronaldo, offering fans a rare glimpse into the life and philosophy of the football legend. The session was not only about honing soccer skills but also about deepening the fans’ understanding and appreciation of the sport.
The training session was attended by other notable personalities like TikTok sensation Khaby Lame and footballer Ana Markovic, adding an extra layer of excitement (and social media amplification) to the event.
The participants tested their skills in a series of challenges designed to emulate professional soccer training. They took part in accuracy tests, control, and shoot exercises, and even had the chance to take penalties against Khaby Lame. This hands-on approach allowed the fans to not only meet their idol but also learn from him, gaining insights into the techniques that have propelled Ronaldo to the pinnacle of world soccer.
“This recent Training Day, which provided five CR7 NFT holders with the chance to train with me, is a great example of the one-of-a-kind opportunities that NFTs can provide,” Ronaldo says. “This was particularly unique in sharing this experience with my fans. It was an amazing day that I will always remember.”
How Sports NFTs Empower Access
The CR7 NFTs, part of Binance’s innovative initiative, represent more than mere digital collectibles. They symbolize a potential paradigm shift in how fans interact with sports icons.
The ‘Golden Ticket’ NFTs, in particular, are a cornerstone of this collection. They represent a high-value item within the ‘The GOAT NFT’ series, offering holders not just ownership of a unique digital asset but access to real-life experiences like the training session with Ronaldo.
This event is indicative of a larger trend in the integration of blockchain technology with sports. NFTs are redefining fan experiences, moving from the digital sphere into the physical realm of sports training and interaction.
The CR7 NFT holders’ training day in Lisbon is a prime example of this evolution. It showcases how blockchain technology can extend beyond the digital landscape into enriching, real-world experiences, reinforcing the potential of NFTs in enhancing fan engagement.
“It was fantastic to see the excitement on the faces of our winners and the realization that it was really happening,” says Sarah Dale, Binance’s Head of Partnerships. “A once-in-a-lifetime experience made possible with a Binance Super Super Rare NFT.”
While the event in Lisbon was successful, it’s not devoid of controversy. Binance and Ronaldo’s venture into NFTs has been scrutinized, particularly in the US, where a lawsuit has been filed alleging that the promoted NFTs were unregistered securities.
The lawsuit seeks over $1 billion in damages for Ronaldo’s role in promoting Binance. The lawsuit claims that Binance operated illegally in the United States by selling unregistered securities and that Ronaldo used his celebrity status to attract investors to the platform.
The lawsuit against Ronaldo cites Binance’s alleged violations, including operating without registration, failing to report suspicious activities, and lacking anti-money laundering measures. The plaintiffs assert that Ronaldo, who has substantial investment experience, should have been aware of the potential illegality of his actions in promoting Binance and allegedly exposing over 100 million Binance users to unregistered securities.
“Ronaldo’s promotions solicited or assisted Binance in soliciting investments in unregistered securities by encouraging his millions of followers, fans, and supporters to invest with the Binance platform,” the suit states.
The digital collectibles were originally priced from about $77 to $10,000, with new Binance customers receiving a special “CR7 Mystery Box.”
Ronaldo is far from the only sports figure to face regulatory scrutiny over digital asset sales. In February 2023, a federal judge ruled that Dapper Labs’ popular NBA TopShot platform’s digital collectibles, dubbed “Moments,” are securities and subject to federal securities laws. The same month, former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce settled with the SEC and paid a $1.1 million penalty over his promotion of the cryptocurrency EthereumMax.