Sports blockchain platform Sorare is expanding its product portfolio. Following a $680 million Series B round of funding at a $4.3 billion valuation, the platform announced it will launch non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards of legendary football stars. To date, Sorare’s NFTs have been associated with its fantasy football game based on active players.
The initiative will be in partnership with sports company Kosmos, founded by Barcelona player Gerard Piqué and Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. Kosmos signed exclusive partnerships for intellectual property with over 50 iconic retired players such as Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, and Michel Platini. Coincidently, Rakuten announced it is looking to launch an NFT marketplace in the Spring of 2022. Gerard Piqué is also an investor in Sorare.
In addition to the NFTs, Sorare and Kosmos produced a mini-series with players providing exclusive interviews about their careers. The content will be made available on the retired players’ own social media channels and Sorare’s platform.
Sorare already has partnerships with 180 soccer clubs, including FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain. It began to expand beyond league team deals in the Summer through partnerships with national football teams, and it announced plans to expand into other sports and start representing female athletes as well. Nevertheless, this is the first time that Sorare launched a product outside of the football fantasy category.
Until now, many NFT initiatives in sports did not categorize Sorare as a direct competitor. Despite the digital asset aspect of the product, projects such as Candy, Autograph, Fantastec, and even Dapper do not directly operate in the sports fantasy industry. Sorare’s partnerships with football teams did not impede other platforms from signing their own deals because the offers differed in functionality. A consumer’s participation in Sorare did not necessarily impede their involvement with another NFT offer.
The launch of the Legendaries collection might change this dynamic. Many initiatives are launching NFT products with athletes and other icons in the sports world, which is in direct competition with Sorare’s new line of products.
With so many emerging offers on the NFT market, the race for signing athletes’ intellectual property is already fierce. Now, Sorare has set a goal of signing at least 150 legendary stars by 2022, which will further fuel competition in the market.
“We are thrilled to work with Kosmos and Gerard’s team for long-term and exclusive Legends partnership” Nicolas Julia, Sorare co-founder and CEO. “We work with players, clubs, leagues and football associations. Working with more than 50 Legends will further cement Sorare’s leadership position in football.”
Meanwhile, Sorare signed a league-wide deal with Spain’s LaLiga. Dapper Labs also recently signed a partnership with the top Spanish league and will begin minting season video moments next year. Outside of Football, Bitci is sponsoring the International Basketball Association and will issue fan tokens and NFTs.