The high-profile footballer was chastised by Spain’s market authority for a tweet endorsing the cryptocurrency platform.
Binance paid athlete Andrés Iniesta for the promotional tweet that sparked a protest from Spain’s financial authority, but the deal was not revealed due to a “misunderstanding,” according to the crypto exchange.
Iniesta’s tweet was one of four sponsored by Binance as part of an “influencer campaign” involving high-profile football players. The National Securities Market Commission of Spain responded to the World Cup star’s tweet earlier this week, reminding him that “crypto assets, like unregulated items, have some related risks.”
Several national authorities have expressed worry over celebrities and influencers pushing high-risk digital assets on social media pages, including Spain’s financial authority.
“Please take care, you are proposing, in exchange for money, investment in unregulated products that pose additional dangers to the public,” the Spanish regulator wrote in answer to a question from the Financial Times about its tweet to Andrés Iniesta.
Binance stated that it wants to publish all sponsored content in general. “Due to a misunderstanding between Binance and [Iniesta’s] staff, the post was not designated #Ad,” it said.
Ral Jiménez, a striker for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, Colombian footballer James Rodrguez, and Atlético Madrid striker Luis Suárez also appeared on Twitter without revealing that Binance had paid for the endorsement, which the exchange again attributed to miscommunication.
In an Instagram post, Suárez revealed the “paid partnership,” whereas Rodrguez and Iniesta made no mention of the sponsorship contract in their posts on the Meta-owned image sharing network.
Iniesta did not respond to a request for comment. Requests for comment from the other footballers were not answered.
The four athletes’ tweets, which have a combined 64 million Twitter followers, come at a time when authorities and consumer organizations are becoming worried about the level of openness provided by influencers in their business partnerships.
In its “best practice guideline on influencer marketing,” the European Advertising Standards Alliance, which advises the ad sector on self-regulation, adds that making commercial posts noticeable “is a cornerstone of responsible advertising.”
According to Thera Adam, co-head of global intellectual property at law firm Eversheds Sutherland, “most” EU nations have established disclosure laws, but ad standards are enforced on a national basis with some variation across the union.
After discovering “unacceptable” and “widespread failure to declare advertising” under national standards, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority issued a warning to all influencers in March.
During the pandemic, watchdogs have expressed worry over the development of online information advocating dangerous investment and trading ideas.
In a speech this summer, Nikhil Rathi, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, claimed “unaccountable social media influencers” played a role in pushing high-risk investments like crypto and speculative stock bets, especially among younger investors.
Turning to social media, according to Anthony Morrow, co-founder of financial consulting firm OpenMoney, was “like the Wild West of investments” for customers who had no other source of financial guidance.
According to research conducted by investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, the majority of traders aged 18 to 34 trawled social media for investment ideas.