A blockchain company stiffed one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world

DigitalBits, which signed on as a sponsor for Inter Milan last September, has failed to meet its financial obligations. Now the club is removing its logo from jerseys altogether.

PESCARA, ITALY - AUGUST 06: Alessandro Bastoni of FC Internazionale looks on during the Pre-Season F...
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Inter Milan, one of the most iconic and visible soccer clubs in Serie A (Italy’s highest-level soccer league), is being forced to reconsider its financial relationship with DigitalBits, a blockchain company, after the latter reportedly failed to complete payments to the club.

Corriere della Sera, an Italian news outlet, was the first to break the news that the plunge in crypto prices has thrown a wrench in the DigitalBits’ ability to follow through on its $100 million partnership with the team, which was signed back in September.

Aside from removing the company’s logo from its jerseys (at least its women and children sizes so far), Inter is also willing to take legal action to recoup losses. A change in sponsorship is also a potential avenue the club may explore if the two sides are unable to come to an agreement.

DigitalBits, a company that provides blockchain technology for tokens, stablecoins, and NFTs, has partnered with a number of big names in the soccer world, including a $42 million, three-year deal with AS Roma (another well-known Italian club) to be the team’s jersey sponsor, back in July, 2021.

David Beckham signed on to be DigitalBit’s global ambassador in March.DigitalBits

Details of the contract — When DigitalBits signed on for a multi-year product partnership last fall, it was only supposed to be the sleeve sponsor for Inter Milan’s jerseys. The deal also involved Zytara Labs, the parent company for DigitalBits, as the two firms were set to help the Italian club create NFTs and integrate XDB (DigitalBits’ crypto token) as a payment option for tickets and merchandise.

In January of this year however, DigitalBits would end up replacing (another crypto company) as the front jersey sponsor. The transition towards crypto sponsorships in the world’s major professional sports leagues seemed to occur en masse around the fall, when a lot of crypto companies were peaking in value.

If anything, the long-term viability of crypto is being held under the microscope. Why should brands partner with companies like DigitalBits — which has seen its crypto token wildly fluctuate in value over the past year — if they’ll struggle to meet the obligations of a multi-year deal?

It’s too early to tell for sure, but maybe “ arena” doesn’t have such a ring to it after all.