The UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that the ads – a Facebook post and a page on the Arsenal’s official website – benefited from supporters’ lack of experience and “frivolous” investments in cryptocurrencies. According to the Socios website, Arsenal is one of the most important football clubs selling fan tokens through the Socios app, which gives fans a chance to influence their team’s decisions and access to “exclusive promotions”. Arsenal in July partnered with Socios, which is owned by blockchain sports company Chiliz.
On August 12, a Facebook post advertising the club’s AFC fan chips said, “Ben White, Callum Chambers, and Kieran Tierney have spoken … Download the Socio app to get your token and vote.” A webpage published on 6 August was titled “$AFC Fan Token: Everything You Need to Know” and included information explaining what the Arsenal Fan Token was and the benefits it brought.
There are thousands of different types of cryptocurrencies, a fully digital monetary system consisting of “coins” or “tokens” that are controlled by a decentralized registry. In general, there is no intrinsic value that is the basis of most cryptocurrencies. Direct ownership and cryptocurrency trading are largely unregulated and offer little consumer protection.
The ASA said Arsenal did not specify whether their “token” was a cryptocurrency, which could only be obtained by opening an account and exchanging it with another cryptocurrency to purchase. “Advertisements should not reappear as claimed,” the ASA said, adding that future advertisements should not shortlist cryptocurrency investments and should make it clear to customers that cryptocurrencies are unregulated and that the value of product investments is variable.
“I also asked them to ensure that they do not mislead consumers by omitting physical information from their advertisements that the Fan Token was a cryptocurrency that was to be purchased using another cryptocurrency,” the ASA said.