In the pursuit of funding, the sports world is grabbing NFTs

On May 17, Sedan Ardennes Sports Club (CSSA) launches its collection of “non-fungible tokens” (or NFT, for Non-fungible token). Pardon ? Who does what ? Yes, the football club Sedan, famous for its unexpected final in the Coupe de France in 1999 and its unexpected adventure in Ligue 1 the same year and continued until 2003, which today points to National 1 (third division), ventured the NFT, these digital assets, if ownership is guaranteed by a particular technology, the blockchain.

→ EXPLANATION. What are NFTs, this new digital passion?

Specifically, CSSA will produce exactly 11,011 digital cards bearing the image of the club’s mascot, a wild boar. Each card is, of course, unique, and these cards can be acquired from next May for a pair of “ethers,” a cryptocurrency that competes with bitcoin. Buyers will then benefit from some special benefits that involve them in the life of the club.

Leading sectors: luxury and sports

It is this dimension that its president, Marc Dubois, wants to emphasize first: “We want to expand and maintain a community of fans far beyond our small department, which has less than 270,000 inhabitants”, he says. Of course, the economic dimension is also present. While it is difficult for a national team to sell its image, any source of revenue is good to take “for a club born in 1919 and which has never managed to balance its accounts”summarizes Marc Dubois.

CSSA is actually not the only one who wants to explore this innovative digital terrain. “The two sectors that invest the most in this ecosystem today are luxury and sport”assures Emmanuelle Dubois, co-founder of the Coinception agency, which supports Sedan in its NFT offering.

In fact, not a day goes by without a club or athlete announcing their conversion to NFTs or other cryptocurrencies such as tokens. The success of the French start-up Sorare, which publishes NFTs to collectibles for around 6,000 football players, worth almost 4 billion euros in the autumn of 2021, will surely inspire. In February 2022, one of his unique cards, the Norwegian striker Erling Haalands, was sold for more than € 600,000.

→ EXPLANATION. Sorare becomes the most expensive start-up in France

The former coach of France’s XV (2007-2011) Marc Lievremont and the ex-football player from PSG Alain Roche, affiliated with the company Sponsorlive, hope to have success with Fanlivecards, a collection dedicated to rugby, which was launched in April. . Tennis coach Patrick Miratoglou put a collection called “The Coach” up for sale in late March, after which buyers could be invited to matches or personal coaching sessions. In November 2021, Belgian Jumbo-Visma cyclist Wout Van Aert auctioned three “sports moments”, NFTs of his victories in the 2021 Tour on Ventoux and on the Champs-Élysées, and the classic Strade Bianche in 2020. All sold for € 47,000.

The risks of a very speculative universe

If these NFTs are later resold, each new transaction should earn a percentage for the champion and his team. For these rugby cards, Marc Lievremont promises 30% for clubs and 10% for players. “The current craze is showing the extent to which sports players are looking for new income, especially to replace online bettors whose sponsorship is increasingly banned in Europe.emphasizes economist Jérémie Bastien, a teacher at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne. But so far, NFTs are not bringing them much yet, and it is above all the digital players who are doing well. “

→ ANALYSIS. Art, luxury and video games, NFT “digital tokens” are popular

Is the burgeoning market destined to evolve to become inevitable? Its strengths are real. “NFTs establish a direct connection with followers, which is very valuable from a marketing standpoint, and these digital products are much easier to sell than traditional derivative products, and they also make it possible to reach an audience all over the world.”remembers economist Philippe Herlin, a specialist in money issues.

But the expert also points to the main limit of the system under way: speculation. “When you buy an NFT, you make a double bet. First about the intrinsic value of the NFT, which in the long run is not obvious: what will a Messi NFT be worth in five years? On the value of the cryptocurrency, which is then used for exchanges whose course is also unstable. I’m not sure that this double risk is well taken into account. “

It prevents. NFTs are on the rise, and the clubs are following with interest tomorrow’s technological promises, as observed by Emmanuelle Dubois, who concludes: “When our interlocutors hear about Web3, the new generation of the Internet and virtual universes like the meta-verse, they say to themselves that we must not miss the boat. »

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Crazy about tokens

Tokens are another kind of digital “tokens”. They are also sold in cryptocurrency, and they allow passionate buyers to have certain privileges, such as voting for the phrase to be inscribed on the captain’s armband of a football club. PSG, Manchester City, Juventus or Barcelona, ​​among others, publish it. About 3% of Lionel Messi’s salary at PSG is paid in tokens.

The basketball club L’Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez will innovate on April 26 by opening part of its capital to the public in the form of tokens. “It will be a world news”has just announced the Courtepointe Sports Group, the US investor that bought the club in June 2021.

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