The Argentine Football Association (AFA) national governing body for soccer is facing legal action from Socios, the blockchain-based fan engagement platform, over the major global partnership the AFA entered into yesterday with cryptocurrency rival Binance.
Socios, which entered into its own partnership with the AFA in May last year in a deal that saw Argentina become the first national soccer team to launch an official fan token ($ARG), believes the AFA is in breach of contract by bringing Binance on board as its main global sponsor, only nine months later.
Minutes after Binance and the AFA announced their deal, Socios released a statement expressing its “absolute outrage” at the news that the governing body would allocate a rival firm rights that Socios believed it had tied up exclusively.
The Binance deal has given that operator naming partner rights to Argentine soccer’s top-tier professional league – rights Socios thought it held through a July deal – and Binance have now said they will launch their own fan token shortly.
The statement went on to say that Socios would take legal action against AFA, with the aim of “protecting the rights of fans who acquired $ARG fan tokens”.
The AFA itself promoted the fan tokens via its social media platforms after their launch last year.
The contract between Socios and the AFA was initially meant to be for three years (according to Socios), and the blockchain firm has said the Binance agreement represents a “flagrant breach of contract … we will take all necessary legal steps to ensure that AFA honors its commitments to Socios.”
When announcing its contract with Binance, the AFA’s president Claudio Tapia said: “We are very happy with the incorporation of Binance as a commercial partner of the AFA. An alliance that, without a doubt, is strategic and will generate excellent results for both parties.”
Meanwhile, Socios earlier today expanded its European presence into Russian top-tier soccer by striking a deal with Spartak Moscow, one of that country’s heavyweight teams.
Socios plans to launch an $FCSM fan token on its site, with Spartak Moscow becoming the first Russian team to align with the blockchain firm.
The fan token, Socios have said, will “gives Spartak’s worldwide fans the chance to engage with and influence the team like never before”, with fans able to engage in minor decision-making processes.
Token-holders will also be able to “enjoy exclusive discounts and promotions, as well as the chance to earn unique rewards, from VIP tickets to match-worn jerseys.”
Makhmutov Rustam, head of commerce and marketing at Spartak Moscow, said: “We are delighted to be the first-ever club in Russia to join the family of Socios that is the leader of the industry … Spartak is taking a big step towards being a more digital and a more innovative global brand and it is a big pleasure to make this long trip with Socios.”
Alexandre Dreyfus, founder and chief executive of Socios and parent company Chiliz, added: “We are very excited to be landing in Russia, home to a huge and passionate community of sports fans. Spartak, the country’s most successful club, is an excellent partner… We’re looking forward to creating new and exciting opportunities for their millions of fans.”
Earlier this month, Socios sealed a multi-faceted partnership with Italian soccer’s top-tier Serie A.
The deal sees Socios become an official partner of the league, as well as the main sponsor of the finals of the Coppa Italia, the country’s knockout cup clubs competition, and of the Supercoppa, the annual clash between the winners of Serie A and the cup.
In total, over 100 top-tier sports bodies and clubs have struck partnerships with Chiliz and Socios in the last couple of years.
This number includes other European soccer heavyweights including Manchester City and Arsenal in England, Spain's Barcelona, and France's Paris Saint-Germain.
As well as the AFA, meanwhile, other soccer federations to have come on board with the fan engagement platform include Italy’s FIGC and Portugal’s FPF.