FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (16-Sept-2021) —
Inter Miami unveiled its first ever primary shirt sponsor last night at its facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The franchise’s first shirt sponsor will be XBTO. For fans whose idea of a proper soccer shirt necesitates having a corporate identity emblasioned across the front of the shirt, “your fútbol shirt is here”.
As part of the deal, the Inter Miami kits will feature the XBTO brand logo in all matches through 2023. “We are pleased to welcome XBTO to our Inter Miami family and to be able to share another milestone with our fans,” said Inter Miami CEO and Managing Owner Jorge Mas, addressing tech industry invitees gathered at Inter Miami’s NW Club. “XBTO will be fully integrated across Inter Miami’s platforms beyond the jersey. Together we will raise awareness and build credibility, and further accelerate the social benefits of cryptocurrency through strategic initiatives as XBTO continues to redefine the next era of finance.”
But who is XBTO, what do they do, and why would they enter into a sponsorship agreement with a professional soccer franchise? Founder and CEO Philippe Bekhazi explained:
“As institutional adoption of cryptofinance continues to grow, XBTO is dedicated to establishing greater trust, transparency and stability within the industry,” Bekhazi said. “Our partnership with Inter Miami brings us one step closer in our mission to advance cryptofinance beyond the digital asset industry.”
XBTO is a full-service firm providing cryptofinance trading and liquidity pricing services to the world’s most established exchanges. An early-adopter of cryptofinance and a known pioneer within the industry, XBTO was the ﬁrst to provide institutional-grade liquidity to major trading platforms.
XBTO currently has offices in Miami, Bermuda, Paris and New York and relocated its headquarters to Miami in April 2021 with the goal of creating synergies with a city that has an unending desire for growth as cryptofinance becomes more adopted. The New York-based firm paid $5.4 million for 5,400 sq. ft. of office space at Biscayne Beach, a waterfront commercial condo located at 2455 NE 7th Avenue in Miami’s Edgewater neighbourhood.
Inter Miami’s ownership group already had ties to crypto exchange. Marcelo Claure, a part-owner who either has or is reportedly planning to sell his stake in the team, is CEO of SoftBank Group, which through its $5 billion Latin America Fund in July invested $200 million in Brazil-based MercadoBitcoin, Latin America’s largest crypto exchange platform.
The most important aspect of the new shirt sponsorship for Inter Miami however, was not disclosed. In keeping in MLS’ vail of secrecy over all things finance, just how much money the sponsorship brings to the franchise is a mystery. The official press release by XBTO made reference to the size of the sponsorship:
The partnership represents one of the largest sponsorship deals among soccer clubs playing in Major League Soccer (MLS).https://www.xbto.com/xbto-commits-to-miamis-crypto-capital-vision-through-massive-partnership-with-jorge-mas-and-david-beckhams-inter-miami-cf/
Based on what is known about other MLS shirt sponsorships, it is thought that the deal is worth roughly $4-5 million. While the initial agreement runs until the end of the 2023 season, there is a potential of extending it.
Inter Miami had been one of only two MLS teams to not have a shirt sponsor. A rumoured deal with Qatar in 2020 which would have seen the state-sponsored airline Qatar Airways become the franchise’s first shirt sponsor never came to pass.
While there has been no criticism of the new sponsorship deal, cryptocurrency mining is known to be an environmentally unfriendly activity, requiring huge amounts of electricity in the process. While there is no exact measurement, an analysis by the New York Times shared some staggering data:
- Bitcoin mining consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than the annual electricity use of Finland, which is a country of 5.5 million people.
- That’s almost 0.5% of all electricity consumption worldwide, and a 10 times jump from just five years ago.
- That’s about the same amount of electricity consumed in the state of Washington each year, and more than a third of electricity used for residential cooling in the US annually.
- More than seven times the electricity used by all of Google’s global operations.
In March, Bill Gates warned bitcoin was “not a great climate thing.” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called its energy use “staggering.” (Business Insider, Sep. 6, 2021) XBTO, however, does not mine its own cryptocurrency. It offers a platform for trading and conducting transactions in the crypto space, among other lines of business.
Inter Miami will debut its XBTO branded jerseys on Friday, Sep. 17 when it takes on the Red Bulls at 7 p.m. ET at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.