Premier League Ignores Crypto Chaos, Backs Sorare's NFT Fantasy Football Game in a Bold Move
Non-fungible token (NFT)-based fantasy game and marketplace Sorare: Football has partnered with the Premier League in a multi-year licensing deal - crypto drama or not.
Fans can build custom teams to win "big rewards" as if they were professional club owners, said the announcement.
It explained that,
"Football fans around the world can now collect, buy, sell, and trade officially licensed digital cards featuring every player from across the Premier League’s 20 clubs."
As for how long the deal has been signed, the Financial Times reported that it is a four-year licensing contract. People familiar with the matter said that "Sorare will pay the Premier League tens of millions of pounds a year to secure the rights," while the final payment for each year will depend on performance.
"Under the deal, the Premier League also has an option to take an equity stake in Sorare," it said.
Sorare, which is backed by players such as Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, has partnered with over 300 football clubs and teams around the world, including Europe’s top leagues, so Sorare Managers can play with Premier League stars of their choice in either Premier League or global competitions, said the marketplace.
'Bad taste in mouth'
Notably, the partnership came at a time of great turmoil for the crypto industry. The prices of major cryptoassets have certainly gone up in January - for example, bitcoin (BTC) appreciated nearly 39% in 30 days - but various other issues and worries still remain. And these are caused by the now-long string of failures of crypto companies and projects.
Last year had seen Terra, Three Arrows Capital, and Celsius Network go down, to name just three of many, followed by the massive and infamous collapse of the FTX exchange - all of which is still causing waves of bankruptcies and staff layoffs within the industry, as well as legal and regulatory issues outside of it.
Sorare’s co-founder and chief executive Nicolas Julia was quoted by Financial Times as saying that,
"To be frank, I don’t love the craziness of the last six to 18 months. [...] You get lots of organisations and companies thinking short term and jumping into the new cool tech for the wrong reasons, then leaving fans with a bad taste in their mouth."
And all this said, the world of football seems not to mind.
Richard Masters, Chief Executive of the Premier League, was quoted as saying that,
"The way that supporters follow their favourite teams and players is evolving and the Premier League is always looking for ways to engage with fans."
Per Masters, this partnership is an ideal new way for fans to feel closer to the players and the game.
Meanwhile, per Julia, Sorare’s revenues increased 50% in 2022 compared to 2021, as gross merchandise volume (which is total user spending on its platform, before accounting for revenue shares with partners and other fees) went up from $292.3 million in 2021 to about $541.2 million in 2022.
Furthermore, Paris-based Sorare raised $680 million at a $4.3 billion valuation in a 2021 funding round led by SoftBank.
Meanwhile, to mark the partnership, Sorare: Football launched features that include league-specific competitions, draft-based gameplay, and capped-mode competitions, said the announcement.
"There are no costs to sign up or play," Sorare added. As for how the game works: players need to draft eight players from professional leagues around the world, then scout, buy, sell, and trade digital player cards in order to build a lineup. They then select a five-a-side team and enter twice-weekly competitions with other Managers to win rewards, with scoring determined by players’ real-life performance.
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