At a time when the entire world is focused on the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Web3 is connecting millions of people from around the globe through an array of sponsorships, advertising deals and immersive digital experiences centered on sport.
In particular, DappRadar’s Sports Report highlights the growing popularity of blockchain-based fantasy sports games like Sorare, where fans are tasked with collecting NFT-based player cards hosted on Starkware, an Ethereum L2 solution. In the last 30 days, Sorare has become the second-largest NFT collection in terms of trading volume, behind only the legendary Bored Ape Yacht Club, with the biggest single sale involving Man City star Erling Haaland’s Unique Card, which sold for a whopping 265 ETH, or 609,000 euros, last January. That was followed by the sale of Kylian Mbappe’s card for a staggering 416,000 euros, with Messi and Ronaldo’s cards both fetching more than 200,000 euros each.
Shortly before the world cup Sorare announced a new free-to-play game, Sorare: Global Cup ’22, to allow fans of soccer around the world to play with digital cards of players in Sorare from 18 national teams following the agreements the operator reached with the teams; it’s worth noting that most of which signed partnerships with Sorare extend beyond the World Cup in Qatar. Nicolas Julia, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sorare, said the game would mirror “one of the biggest moments in sport; the most iconic, celebrated and watched international sports tournament on the planet which has played host to some of football’s most legendary matches, players and champions.” It’s also reported that Sorare users will be able to set up private tournaments with friends and family. Prizes, including digital player cards, exclusive event collectibles, merchandise, VIP match tickets, and fan experiences, will be up for grabs after each match-day of the tournament.
It’s not only card games that are proving popular. Fans can actually use the blockchain to participate in the way their favorite clubs are run via the Socios.com platform. To do so, they must purchase fan tokens minted on the Chiliz blockchain that represent specific clubs like Barcelona, Lazio and Paris Saint-Germain. With these tokens, fans can then take part in regular votes in order to select new kit designs, jersey numbers and motivational messages for their favorite players. At the same time, token holders get the chance to win official merchandise, VIP tickets to games and online meetings with players and more besides.
Given the benefits, it’s no surprise to see that more than 82 popular clubs have launched fan tokens on Socios (at the time of writing, 24 Nov 2022). However, teams will do well to take note that the price of their fan tokens can be impacted by negative results. In the wake of Argentina’s shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in its first World Cup match, the price of the AFA token dropped by more than 25%!
Digital sports memorabilia is another emerging concept in the realm of Web3 sports offerings. For instance, the NBA Top Shot NFT collection on Flow generated an impressive $450 million in trading volume during the first quarter of 2021, accounting for a staggering 36% of the total NFT market at that time. Created by Dapper Labs, the collection is focused on short videos known as “moments” that capture some of the most exciting clips from NBA games.
DappRadar said Flow’s collections are popular because they reduce friction for users who’re not familiar with the blockchain. Whenever someone buys a “moment” NFT, a wallet is automatically created for them. So the user doesn’t need any technical expertise to participate. This year, the NBA Top Shot collection has done more than $200 million in sales from 8.1 million trades, despite severe bear market conditions in the wider crypto industry. However, most recently as reported by Andrew Hayward in Decrypt on 1 December trading on the Flow blockchain fell by over 50% to under $7.7 million as NBA Top Shot notched its worst secondary sales month in two years—under $2.1 million worth, per data from analytics platform CryptoSlam, down even further from October. A rival collection focused on NFL, called All Day, has amassed over $35 million in sales over one million trades this year. Dapper Labs also offers collections for UFC fights and Spanish La Liga matches.
Lastly, Web3 firms are making their presence felt across the sporting world with hard-hitting advertising campaigns. DappRadar’s report notes that FIFA recently signed up Algorand as an official sponsor and blockchain partner, for example. Algorand now hosts FIFA’s official NFT collection, called FIFA+ Connect. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Algorand. The collaboration is a clear indication of FIFA’s commitment to continually seeking innovative channels for sustainable revenue growth for further reinvestment back into football ensuring transparency to our stakeholders and world-wide football fans – a key element of our Vision to make football truly global. I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Algorand.”
Elsewhere, Formula 1 agreed a massive $100 million advertising deal with the Crypto.com exchange and wallet ecosystem in the summer of 2021, while 80% of its race teams have at least one crypto partnership with brands like ByBit, OKX and Tezos.
Crypto.com has been especially vigorous in its pursuit of sporting partnerships, agreeing similar multi-million dollar deals with the Staples Center, PSG and the NHL team Canadiens. More recently, Crypto.com signed a deal with Budweiser to promote itself within that company’s new Budverse digital world, as well as sign up as a sponsor of the World Cup 2022.
Coca-Cola teams up with Cryptocom to launch 10,000 unique FIFA World Cup NFTs
— Blockworks (@Blockworks_) December 5, 2022
Crypto.com said it would be hosting on its blockchain 10,000 NFTs created by Coca-Cola and digital artist GMUNK. The NFTs were produced by tracking via so-called “heatmaps” the in-game movements of players during matches at the Qatar World Cup.
“This year’s FIFA World Cup will be the first to leverage Web3 technology,” Steven Kalifowitz, chief marketing officer at Crypto.com, said in the release. “It’s a privilege to partner with Coca-Cola and GMUNK to memorialize these historical matches that will forever be captured on the blockchain. Together we are creating a completely new form of memorabilia.”