Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in a $1billion (£790m) class action lawsuit in the United States over his affiliation with the cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.
The former Manchester United forward and multi-time Ballon d'Or winner, 37, released a CR7 range of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in collaboration with Binance in November 2022. The cheapest token, which all refer to Ronaldo's initials and shirt number, went on sale for $77 (£60.76) last year but is worth just $1 (£0.79) 12 months later.
The claimants allege that Ronaldo's involvement prompted loss-making investments and damages of a "sum exceeding" $1bn. In the complaint, which was filed on Tuesday to the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida in Miami, it's alleged that Ronaldo "promoted, assisted in, and/or actively participated in the offer and sale of unregistered securities in coordination with Binance".
Further claims allege that Ronaldo's promotion of the range led to a "500 percent increase in searches" for the crypto exchange following the release of the tokens.
SEC chair Gary Gensler previously said that celebrities and sports stars must "disclose to the public from whom and how much you are getting paid to promote investment in securities".
"When celebrities endorse investment opportunities, including crypto-asset securities, investors should be careful to research if the investments are right for them, and they should know why celebrities are making those endorsements," he said.
Speaking about the range of NFTs in a video shared on social media last year, Ronaldo said: "We are going to change the NFT game and take football to the next level". Claimants allege Ronaldo should have disclosed how much he was being paid, but that he failed to do so.
Nigel Green, boss of consultancy firm DeVere Group, told the BBC that the problems at the heart of the case went wider than just one footballer.
"It is crucial to recognise that blaming Ronaldo alone oversimplifies a complex issue," he said. "Instead, attention should also be directed towards global regulators who have been slow to establish clear guidelines for this evolving financial landscape."
The Portugal international hinted he was still working with Binance earlier this week, when he said in a social media post they were "cooking something up".
After leaving Manchester United for the second time last year, Ronaldo became the first high-profile footballer to move the Saudi Pro League with Al-Nassr. An influx of top stars have since followed him to the Middle East, including a raft of familiar faces from the Premier League such as Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard.
“I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football,” the veteran said back in December of last year. “I feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia. Al Nassr’s vision is very inspiring and impressive.
“I look forward to a different league experience in a different country. I am excited to join my teammates as soon as possible.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has been approached for comment by Mirror Sport.
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