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Barcelona and Man City

Barcelona and Man City

Barcelona and Man City abandon club’s cryptocurrency sponsors amid concerns

Man City suspended a deal with 3Key Technologies after concerns about the company’s limited digital footprint were highlighted.

Barcelona canceled a deal with Ownix after a businessman linked to the company was arrested for cryptocurrency-related fraud

LONDON: Concerns about two cryptocurrency companies prompted two of Europe’s top football clubs, Barcelona and Manchester City, to abandon short-lived sponsorship deals on Friday.

Premier League champions City have suspended a deal with 3Key Technologies after concerns about the limited digital footprint of the company and its executives were highlighted.

Barcelona canceled a deal with Ownix after a businessman linked to the company was arrested for cryptocurrency-related fraud.

Moshe Hogeg was identified by Israeli media as one of the eight suspects detained, although police did not identify the high-tech entrepreneur and the owner of the Beitar Jerusalem-based team. Hogeg’s lawyers, who could not be reached for comment, were quoted as saying they denied the allegations.

Ownix announced Nov. 5 that it would partner with Barcelona to launch non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, that would be purchased using the digital currency known as Ethereum. NFTs would have allowed people to buy digital certificates of authenticity of virtual items tied to the team’s history.

“In light of the information received today that goes against the values of the club,” the Catalan club said on Friday, “FC Barcelona hereby communicates the termination of the contract to create and market NFT digital assets with Ownix with immediate effect.”

Hogeg is a well-known figure in Israel after buying Beitar in 2018.

What was less clear this week is who the officials behind 3Key are, which the City announced as a sponsor a week ago. City had said the company would become an “official regional partner” in “decentralized financial trading advisory and analysis technology” without saying which region it was from.

The Times of London reported this week that founder Oliver Chen said 3Key was “in a start-up phase” ahead of a product launch in the coming months. His company statement listed company executives without an obvious online presence.

“Driven by the club’s interactions with 3Key Technologies over the past few days,” City said in a statement on Friday, “Manchester City is now conducting further investigations into 3Key Technologies and the partnership has been suspended pending a satisfactory resolution to all those queries.

City said its sponsorship had “not been activated with respect to any specific product or service anywhere in the world.” While the City said it “conducts due diligence with respect to all of its partnerships,” it was unclear how rigorous the inquiries were prompted by media outlets searching the internet for details about the company’s staff.

Author Martin Calladine had noted on Twitter that “unusually for a member of a large football club, the company’s website had no contact details, registered office or company number. Their digital channels were only a few months old and their designated staff has zero digital footprint.”

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