Following on from a successful rights deal with the Spanish La Liga, French tech startup Sorare has the English Premier League in its sights.
The Etherium-powered Sorare – which is valued at $4.3 billion – allows users to trade virtual cards representing players on the blockchain.
The French company has leveraged both the ever-present love for football players in card or sticker form – in the past, with actual stickers, now through the FIFA video game series – and the boom in non-fungible tokens, with transactions for NFTs reaching the billions in this year alone.
Nicolas Julia, who is hoping to secure more major football rights deals, said: “We have had conversations, we have been in touch for a while, and hopefully we will have something to announce with the Premier League.”
Paris-based Sorare are also targeting American users via basketball, baseball and American football. Footballers Rio Ferdinand, Antione Griezmann, and Gerard Pique are all investors in Sorare.
The company’s US$680m Series B funding also included Japanese investment giant, SoftBank.
Sorare’s platform works by allowing users to buy and sell player cards, which are NFTs of differing rarity, depending on player popularity and ability. Users can then use these cards to build a ‘five-a-side’ deck, or team, to compete in fantasy sports tournaments to win prizes.
The cards can then be bought and sold in and out of collections, with Ethereum acting as the transaction currency.
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The platform itself is free to use, with new players able to obtain ‘common’ player cards just through signing up. Beyond that though, serious participation can become expensive.
The most valuable card, for Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, traded hands for €245,072 (£210,482). Since there are a limited number of NFTs for each player, there’s plenty of others that have sold for hundreds of thousands.
It isn’t just the big five leagues that are making moves into the NFT market. Earlier this month, Hibernian Football Club signed a deal with Sportemon Go that will se the creation of a Hibernian Fan Token and digital NFT collectibles.