Huy, a student from Vietnam, had just started getting interested in the world of cryptocurrency last year when a video appeared on his Instagram feed.
It featured footballers Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Ashley Young and Marcelo Brozovic – all Inter Milan players at the time – repeating the same phrase.
“I love football and I love crypto,” each player said, in separate selfie videos. “Follow the best crypto project ever. Stay tuned!”
The announcement was for a new digital token called FootballStars, which promised to revolutionize the world of football with exciting new games and features, and send users “over the moon” via skyrocketing prizes to enrich those who, like Huy , bought the token earlier.
At the same time In May and June of last year, Croatian players took center stage in some of the sport’s biggest moments.
Mateo Kovacic won the Champions League with Chelsea, Ivan Perisic scored against the Czech Republic at Euro 2020 and Brozovic helped Inter Milan win their first Serie A title in a decade.
The three players were among those promoting the FootballStars token on their social media feeds, with the advertisements reaching tens of millions of football fans around the world.
— Mateo Kovacic (@mateokovacic8) June 9, 2021
Inter and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal, who has over 17 million followers on Instagram, shared a promotion for FootballStars, as did Croatia international Dejan Lovren and Inter’s Stefano Sensi.
The FootballStars token website has since disappeared – it does not exist when accessed from the UK – and its associated social media accounts have gone cold since October.
The value of the token has dropped 98% from its peak, which means that fans who bought the tokens last summer and held on to them lost huge amounts of money.
“Everything turned to dust,” said Huy Athleticism. “I decided to leave the project with a loss of around 70%.
“I lost faith in some footballers after that, especially Mr. Kovacic, who is the player for my favorite team, Chelsea.”
This is just the latest example of footballers with huge social media followings promoting cryptocurrency and NFT (non-fungible token) schemes. Separate examples were endorsed by Paul Pogba and Andrew Robertson, while John Terry’s NFT collection fell 90%.
In many cases, these obscure new digital assets briefly rise in value, boosted by celebrity endorsements, and then crash dramatically, often resulting in real human misery.
Mario Frau is an Italian architect who says he lost “a few thousand dollars” after seeing several Inter players promoting the FootballStars token on social media and deciding to buy a lot of tokens in an attempt to make some money .
“The price started going down all of a sudden, because (the founders) threw away the coins they had, and so what you bought was no longer worth anything,” says Frau. He is still part of a group on the social media platform Telegram, hoping that something new will be announced to increase the value of the token so that he can recoup some of his initial investment.
“Nobody has anything to lose by having the coin worth zero and expecting to see what happens,” he says. “If nothing happens, it can’t get any worse than this.”
Many football fans and cryptocurrency enthusiasts may feel that a financial asset must be highly regulated if it is promoted by a celebrity who is known to his many social media followers.
This is often far from the case, however. The world of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens is barely regulated, and in a complex situation that crosses national borders like this, there is little that people who lose large sums can do.
Finally the footballstars challenge is online. You can bet a cake and win $ feet at https://t.co/Yc0FVGviTV. Also join our telegram group at https://t.co/kN8zsX3OEw Welcome to the football family. #stakes #stakingcake #footballstarsio @davidecrypto @FootballStarsIO
– Marcelo Brozovic (@brozocrypto) October 14, 2021
The FootballStars token, which is unregulated in Italy or Croatia, has also attracted interest from football fans on social media away from Europe, in places where average incomes are much lower and therefore losses are more strongly felt.
“Since they were promoting it with some of the great football players, I thought it was a legit project and invested a decent amount,” said Yarzar, a football fan and crypto enthusiast. Myanmar currency. Athleticism. “It turned out that we can no longer access their website.
Yarzar was savvy enough to sell his portfolio when it had only fallen by half, but he still faced a substantial loss.
“A bit of luck saved me from losing everything, and that’s about it,” he adds.
Almost every player who has promoted FootballStars on their social media seems to have some connection to Inter or the Croatia national team. Brozovic calls himself a “cryptocurrency evangelist” in his Twitter bio, but he removed a link to FootballStars.
He frequently tweeted about the project and encouraged fans to join a Telegram group related to the project.
The chat is now full of people furious that they were ‘scammed’ and ‘cheated’ by a project they thought would skyrocket after being hyped by football superstars.
Huy, the Vietnamese student, says he was banned from the group when he started posting about how the token was losing value.
Brozovic also shared footage of the tokens rising in value, but remained silent since it dramatically gutted and then flattened, leaving investors out of pocket. He previously shared Coshi Inu, another obscure cryptocurrency project that rose in value before collapsing.
Athleticism contacted all the players mentioned in the article. A spokesperson for Romelu Lukaku has confirmed that he has no intention of promoting FootballStars and has not received any money from the company. The others declined to comment.
FootballStars did not respond to a request for comment.
(Top photos: Getty Images)