In this first instalment of a two-part series covering the ins-and-outs of NFTs in football, we look at how the football world engages with fans through the use of these tokens.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are digital representations of assets that can be bought and sold online with cryptocurrency, and are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos. Think of it as buying unique digital items using digital currency.
These tokens have been around for a while, since 2014 in fact, but have only truly exploded into mainstream consciousness in the past couple of years. Most NFTs you see on the market are a way of registering a one-of-a-kind image, video or any form of digital item on a blockchain.
NFTs, together with fan tokens and cryptocurrencies, have been gracing the news feeds of sports fans all over the world. The trend is in steady progress as more sports clubs and franchises join in, including football teams. More and more football fans are now looking at how to invest in NFTs as they see it as an opportunity to enjoy the exclusive perks available only to holders of digital tokens.
Want to delve deeper into the world of football NFTs? Here are some successful and upcoming football NFTs you should know about.
French firm Sorare has married fantasy football, trading cards and NFTs, allowing its players to buy, sell, trade and manage a virtual team with digital player cards. It was launched in 2019 and utilises blockchain technology based on Ethereum.
How popular is this football NFT offering? Well, NFTs of some of the world’s biggest footballers have exchanged hands at incredible amounts, including cards of Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.
Cristiano’s unique (1-of-1) Sorare card first made waves with a USD265,275.55 sale in May 2021, before being eclipsed by a Haaland card in February 2022. The Borussia Dortmund superstar’s card reportedly sold for USD678,327.53.
“Be more than a fan” - reads the tagline on the Socios website. Owned by Chiliz, the company whose eponymous currency Socios is based on, the platform allows football supporters to purchase fan tokens of their favourite clubs.
Owning a token gives fans a say in cosmetic aspects of club affairs, such as the shirt number of a new signing or what music to play when a team scores a goal.
Argentinian footballer Messi is one of the biggest names in world football, so it should have been no surprise when he made headlines announcing his own collection of NFTs in a collaboration with popular Australian digital artist BossLogic.
Based on the Ethernity platform, one of the unique pieces - “The Golden One” - reportedly sold for more than USD1 million.
Cryptostrikers, also billed as Wrapped Strikers on NFT marketplace Opensea, bills itself as the first sports NFT on the Ethereum blockchain. Launched in 2018 in the run up to the World Cup, users can buy digital packs of football trading cards.
These NFTs have also changed hands at significant prices, with a Mo Salah card selling for USD141,560.31, a Messi card for USD128,512 and a Cristiano card for USD 120,685.
Premier League NFT projects
The Premier League has long been the most watched sports league in the world, and there has been plenty of interest as to when they would finally dip their toes into the NFT world.
That time is almost at hand as reports this year indicated they were close to partnering up with two NFT firms for their maiden digital offerings. American firm ConsenSys was reported to have won the bid to supply NFTs to the Premier League, while Canadian company Dapper Labs (known for its partnerships with the NBA and UFC among others) have landed the video NFT rights.
While the news has yet to be officially confirmed, there will no doubt be plenty of interest once the Premier League NFTs are launched.
In our next instalment, we will explore the benefits of NFTs to football fans, and the ways you can get involved.