Friday, December 3

Cryptocurrencies are getting into football


The Argentine star received a first part of his salary in ‘fan tokens’ from the Parisian club, for a value, according to a bank source and another close to the club, of around one million euros (1,133,000 dollars).

This payment is the result of a commercial agreement with the company Socios.com that, since 2020, allows fans to buy these tokens with chiliz, a less popular cryptocurrency than bitcoin or ethereum.

Thanks to these ‘fan tokens’, fans can participate in the life of the club without having to go through the stadium, deciding from the design of the curtain between the dressing room tunnel and the pitch, or the phrase inscribed on the captain’s armband. , for instance.

The company took a new dimension from its alliance with PSG in 2018, signing contracts with a total of 56 clubs and close to a hundred teams from various sports, according to its president Alexandre Dreyfus, who expects that Messi’s contract “will launch a fashion”.

“We hope that in two years, during the ‘mercato’, a player will say: ‘yes, I want to join this team, but it would be nice if he proposed me a million dollars in fan tokens,'” he explains from his office in Malta.

The president of Socios.com admits that his company has benefited from the economic crisis linked to the pandemic, multiplying its agreements.

“Some clubs have suddenly lost 50, 70, even 80% of their income and have said: ‘We have fans all over the world, what could we sell them?”, Explains Dreyfus, also co-founder of the company of sports betting and online poker Winamax.

A study by the KPMG cabinet shows that more than 40 sponsorship contracts have been signed in the five major European football championships since the start of the pandemic. And cryptocurrencies have made their way in a prominent way.

According to KPMG, Inter Milan, for example, has doubled its revenue from sponsorship of its jersey by swapping Pirelli for Socios.com.

DigitalBits, another player in the blockchain technology sector, has been announcing itself since last July on the AS Roma shirt, after having signed a three-year contract with the Serie A club in exchange for 12.4 million of euros.

The rise of the cryptocurrency market in football comes at a time when Spain has banned gambling operators from sponsoring football clubs, a measure that the United Kingdom is also studying.

“This void will have to be filled and ‘fan tokens’, or something that is not defined as gambling but which is, should be favored,” analyzes Kieran Maguire, a researcher in football finance at the University of Liverpool.

Some, however, are concerned that bettors are embarking on this market that they do not fully understand and that the value of cryptocurrencies is very volatile. That of the chiliz increased by 58% four weeks after the arrival of Messi.

“Ultimately, they are speculative products,” says Maguire.

A group of Aston Villa fans, quoted by online outlet Joe.co.uk, called their club’s deal with Socios.com “completely indecent”.

“Actually, clubs are looking for ‘non-traditional’ fans and wondering what can we do with these new fans,” says Maguire.

“Manchester United, for example, claims 1.1 billion fans and has annual revenues of 715 million euros (810 million dollars), which is equivalent to 60 cents (68 cents) per fan per year,” he adds.

But these “two different generations” are not incompatible, according to Dreyfus. “I often joke that clubs are not interested in the tattooed guys who live a stone’s throw from the stadium. Our market now looks to fans online, from anywhere in the world, who historically consume sport in a different way than you do. or me, “he concludes.



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