John Terry has removed the Premier League trophy from the cartoon ape non-fungible token (NFT) digital assets he has been promoting on Twitter after a legal intervention by the league.
The Premier League trophy is protected by its trademark and its use in any commercial venture requires a licensing agreement with the league. The league wrote to Terry and “Ape Kids Club”, the NFT collection promoted by the former Chelsea and England captain, to make that point this week.
This latest craze in the cryptocurrency world has seen footballers past and present jump on the bandwagon, allowing them to make money from digital creations. NFTs are approximately sold at 0.05 Ethereum (ETH), which is currently priced at £93.79, plus an additional transaction fee.
Terry, who now works as a consultant at Chelsea at an academy level, has been promoting cartoons of baby apes on his Twitter page, which included illustrated images of the different trophies he has won throughout his career.
One of the titles that surrounds the cartoon ape is the Premier League trophy, which is protected by its trademark.
Other tweets featuring NFTs, a digital asset bought and sold online, of famous players portrayed as cartoon apes beside the Premier League trophy have been deleted. One tweet featuring the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, Community Shield and FA Cup trophies was on Terry’s Twitter profile at the time of writing.
Chelsea have also looked into the cartoons because some have included images of the club’s badge. Uefa, which organises the Europa League and Champions League, has taken legal advice and is investigating the matter.
The Football Association is also aware of the NFT activity related to Terry’s account, which includes use of the FA Cup trophy, the Community Shield and the England kit.
Use of its image requires a licensing agreement with the Premier League if it is used in any commercial venture.
UEFA are also investigating the matter after discovering that illustrations of both Champions League and Europa League trophies have been used in the NFTs.
According to The Source, a UEFA spokesperson said after discovering the NFTs: ‘UEFA takes the protection of its intellectual property rights seriously and we are investigating this matter further. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.’
Terry, who has taken up a consultancy role in Chelsea’s academy, has been heavily promoting the “Ape Kids Club” NFTs on Twitter. Others who have endorsed them are Bobby Zamora, Jack Wilshere and Nigel de Jong. Terry’s former Chelsea and England teammate Ashley Cole retweeted one post containing an image of the trophies. The Chelsea and England full-back Reece James has tweeted about acquiring a “Mutant Ape” NFT.
“Ape Kids Club” NFTS are an offshoot of another popular NFT, the “Bored Ape Yacht Club”. The collection features 10,000 digital illustrations of cartoon apes. The “Ape Kids Club” features 9,999 different ape NFTs available for purchase.
It comes as a U-turn from Terry who dismissed the original reports from the Telegraph as ‘absolutely plum’ on Twitter when the story was published on Wednesday.
In a reply to the Telegraph, Terry wrote: ‘Must be true if Sam has written it… Absolutely plum.’
Terry, along with other Premier League greats including former Chelsea and England team-mate Cole, have been endorsing the ‘Ape Kids Club’ NFTs on Twitter.
An NFT is a non-interchangeable unique unit of data that is tracked on a blockchain to prove its authenticity. These collectable units of data can be sold for large sums of money and can represent anything online.
The Ape Kids Club NFTs are an off-shoot of the ‘Bored Ape Yacht Club’ that has risen to prominence in the United States and has seen the likes of Eminem spend $461,868 (£342,000) on a digital illustration of the cartoon ape.
Current Chelsea full back Reece James has also tweeted about his own ‘Mutant Ape’ acquisition while Terry has namechecked the likes of Jack Wilshere, Willian and PSG’s Marco Verratti while promoting the NFT extensively on Twitter.
NFTs are unique digital assets stored on the Blockchain and traded in cryptocurrencies. The ownership and provenance of NFTs are verified by the Blockchain, an online ledger. The two biggest cryptocurrencies are bitcoin and Ethereum, but there are more than 5,000 different varieties.
Critics argue the tokens are potentially dangerous financial assets. NFTs remain part of an unregulated financial sector.