World-renowned football player Lionel Messi will launch a non-fungible token (NFT) collection on the digital marketplace Ethernity. The experience of participating in the auction is called Messiverse and people can pre-register to be notified of its drop.
In the last couple of months various sports clubs have partnered with blockchain-based initiatives to enhance their fan engagement offerings. NFT platforms and fan token services such as Sorare and Socios.com have partnered with numerous football clubs, including Barcelona, where Messi has played since 2004.
But athletes themselves are also taking notice of how they can benefit from their own licensed products in the blockchain industry. NBA athlete Spencer Dinwiddie attempted to tokenize his contract in 2020, but wasn’t allowed and instead issued a bond on business assets. Now he is launching a social media application that enables athletes and other celebrity figures to issue their own blockchain tokens.
A more common approach is to launch licensed NFTs. NFL player Rob Gronkowski sold a collection on marketplace OpenSea for $1.6 million dollars and more have followed the trend.
Some marketplaces such as Tom Brady’s Autograph and SportsIcon are specializing in issuing and branding athletes’ NFTs. Blockchain company Zilliqa launched an NFT marketplace specifically for football players and is licencing NFTs of famous athletes such as Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix and Manchester City’s Ruben Dias.
Ethernity has partnered with players in a series of industries, including music, technology, and sports. The platform has issued NFTs of football legend Pele and recently issued NFTs of the Copa America Final, where Messi’s Argentina raised the Cup.
A potential challenge for the sustainability of these auctions is that Ethernity and many other platforms are launching individual auctions of players. An avid Messi fan might have an interest in owning his NFTs, but sports fans are often more interested in collectibles for multiple players. Fantastec offers these kinds of products, but it licenses whole teams as opposed to players. Hence it’s the team rather than the athlete profiting off their brand.
Nevertheless, Messi has over 241 million followers on Instagram and is one of the most famous athletes in the world. The picture he posted holding Copa America’s Cup was the most liked picture posted by an athlete ever. He is beloved in Argentina but also by football fans worldwide. Therefore there should be enough interest in his NFT drop.
Meanwhile, MLB player Trey Mancini auctioned an NFT collection on UREEQA to raise funds for the Trey Mancini Foundation, which supports the early detection of Colon Cancer.