UK advertising watchdog upholds complaint of ‘irresponsible’ fan token ads against Arsenal

The United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has secured another victory over English Premier League football club side Arsenal FC. An independent review has upheld the U.K. advertising watchdog’s ruling that Arsenal FC’s online advertisements of its fan token were “irresponsible.”

The independent review is a response to the football giants’ appeal to overturn the regulatory action of the ASA against it. According to the update on the ASA’s website, the independent review only revised the grounds on which the ruling stands. 

The regulatory action began in 2021 following ads made by Arsenal on its website and Facebook. The ads were of two variants of its fan token, $AFC, launched on the football fan engagement digital asset platform Socios. 

One of the tokens was a free token given to the football club’s old supporters, while the second was a ‘for-sale token’ that could be purchased by old and new fans using Socios’ native token $CHZ. The ASA alleged, at the time, that the ads did not clarify the difference between the two tokens properly. 

After investigations at the time, the ASA ruled that the ads “were irresponsible because they took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and trivialized engaging with and investing in cryptoassets.” 

The latest post explains that the first ads breached several Committee of Advertising Practice Ltd. (CAP) code rules including rules against misleading advertising, qualification, financial products, and social responsibility.

“The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Arsenal Football Club plc to ensure that they made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in paid-for Fan Tokens was variable and as cryptoassets they were unregulated,” the ASA said. 

UK government cracking down hard on digital assets-related ads

In a response, Arsenal FC told The Telegraph it was disappointed with the result of the appeal and that it has complied with the guidance since the original ruling. 

The fan token ad has not been the only digital asset advertising U.K. regulators have gone after. Earlier this year, the ASA also passed a ruling for meme token Floki Inu to stop its subway advertising campaign. 

The country intends to crackdown hard on all digital asset ads by making rules that will classify them as financial assets. Meanwhile, the U.K. has classified digital assets ads as financial promotions since 2020. 

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