LONDON – La Liga, Spain’s top soccer league, announced Thursday that it will offer NFTs to all of its players, marking the latest foray into cryptocurrency from a major sports organization.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets designed to authenticate ownership of a virtual commodity, such as rare works of art or collectible cards, on the blockchain. Unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they cannot be traded equally with each other.
La Liga is teaming up with French start-up Sorare to launch its NFTs. Sorare’s platform allows users to trade digital player cards and manage up to five teams in multiple fantasy football tournaments.
Sorare has said he has entered into a long-term exclusive licensing deal with La Liga which will see top players including Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, Vinicius Junior from Real Madrid and Pedri from FC Barcelona join his platform.
“Today marks an important milestone for us as this is the first league in the top five to join the platform,” Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare, told CNBC.
The company said La Liga clubs will receive royalties on sales and Sorare has paid a minimum guarantee to ensure exclusivity.
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La Liga is one of the many sports federations to enter the crypto world. The National Basketball Association, for example, licenses the game for a collectibles platform called NBA Top Shot, which was developed by blockchain startup Dapper Labs.
In the world of football, Manchester City have dropped two collections from NFT. Meanwhile, a number of clubs have launched Fan Tokens which allow holders to vote on mostly minor club decisions and gain some leverage.
Last month it was revealed that Lionel Messi’s welcome package to Paris Saint-Germain included the French club’s fan token, developed with cryptocurrency company Socios.com.
There has been a jump in NFT sales this year. A work by digital artist Beeple sold for around $ 70 million in March, while Visa recently bought a crypto collectible called CryptoKitties in Ethereum for around $ 150,000.
Supporters of DTV say they are a way to achieve verifiable reduction and ownership of digital media, which can be reproduced and distributed on a large scale through the free availability of content on the Internet.
However, critics see the trend as a potential bubble in a market known for its highly speculative investments. The NFT has also spawned several scams, with a fake Banksy collectible sold for over $ 300,000 via an apparent hack on the artist’s website.
Sorare says it has processed more than $ 200 million in sales through its platform since early 2021. The platform has more than 500,000 registered users in total.
Sorare hopes to be signed by each of the top 20 soccer leagues in the world by the end of 2022.
Founded in 2018, the startup is said to be gearing up for a $ 530 million funding round, which would give it a valuation of at least $ 3.8 billion, according to Insider. Sorare declined to comment on the report.