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Voyager Bankruptcy Puts US Pro Women’s Soccer Player Payouts at Risk: Report

“There was always risk,” said the NWSL after indicating that players may not see their crypto cashout following Voyager Digital’s bankruptcy.

3 min read
There have been many sports and crypto partnerships in 2021 and 2022. Image: Shutterstock.

Players in the US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) are reportedly set to miss out on the promised payouts of a deal with crypto broker Voyager after the firm went bankrupt.

The league has told players they could miss out on funds they were promised as part of the sponsorship deal, Sportico reported on Monday.

The partnership, announced in December last year, was one of the biggest in NWSL history and was intended to be a multi-year agreement.

As part of the tie-up, the league would receive half the payment in cash, while players would get the other half in the form of crypto. Each athlete was to be given a Voyager account to receive the deposits and build their own crypto portfolios.

But the accounts were never funded, Sportico reported, citing multiple sources close to the situation.

Now, with Voyager having filed for bankruptcy early in July, the future of these player payouts looks uncertain.

In a statement issued to the press, the NWSL said: “The Player Fund was always intended to be distributed into accounts at Voyager in cryptocurrency, with the goal of educating players regarding investment in the crypto space. As such, there was always risk regarding the volatility of the cryptocurrency market.”

It is understood that there is no impact on players’ basic salaries as a result of Voyager’s bankruptcy, with the effects limited to the promised benefits of the sponsorship deal.

Decrypt has contacted the NWSL and Voyager for comment.

Voyager, NWSL deal was ‘bad business'

Former professional soccer player Haley Carter responded to the news by labeling the deal “bad business.”

“NWSL players being made vulnerable by the NWSL to a losing scheme that literally anyone who has followed the markets and investment platforms recognizes is a losing scheme is very on brand for the NWSL,” she wrote on Twitter. “We all knew this was coming and it’s still an incredible disappointment.”

She added that while there was no impact on player salaries, “partnering with Voyager and pitching it like it was a good deal is still bad business.”

The news will likely raise fresh concerns over the many sports sponsorship deals signed by cryptocurrency firms in recent years. 

Crypto companies spent a combined $130 million on NBA sponsorship deals alone last season, while this year’s Super Bowl featured a record number of crypto commercials.

Soccer has also been a major target area for platforms looking to woo sports fans into becoming customers. Most recently, the football club FC Barcelona announced a multi-million euro partnership with blockchain-based sports fan app Socios.com.

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