Table of Contents
Spanish football club Atletico Madrid is suing Singapore-based crypto exchange WhaleFin for failing to pay $44 million in sponsorship.
Atletico Madrid signed a five-year deal ahead of the 2022/23 season with WhaleFin, which would serve as one of its main sponsors, including its first team kit.
The LaLiga club ended its sponsorship deal early as Amber Group, which powers WhaleFin, experienced mounting losses in December. Amber also cancelled its $24.4 million sleeve sponsorship with Premier League giants Chelsea at the time, as it cut its workforce by 300 employees.
Atletico Madrid is now seeking €20 million in damages from Amber, which it claims breached the agreement by not fulfilling its payment obligations.
Italian clubs Inter Milan and Roma also suffered sponsorship failures with blockchain firms DigitalBits. Inter Milan had signed a €85 million agreement with DigitalBits ahead of the 2022-23 season but revealed no payment was received in March. Roma’s €40 million deal with DigitalBits was signed in 2021 for three years but the latter failed to make payment in March.
Despite its financial struggles last year, Amber Group closed a $300M Series C funding round in December. In April 2023, the group said it was considering options for its Japan unit, including a possible sale, as part of its strategic decision to focus more on institutional rather than retail business.
In an interview on Bloomberg Television, Amber managing partner Annabelle Huang stated that Japan is a "very high-quality market, but regulations are strict." This comes as other crypto firms like Coinbase and Kraken have pulled back from the Japanese market, despite some easing of digital-asset rules.
As recently as last month, Amber Group invested in leading Web3 wallet solution provider Account Labs, whilst in September, WhaleFin injected a 5,000 ETH stake into RockX's Bedrock platform.