NFL Teams Test the Waters of Crypto Fan Tokens

Thirteen franchises are set to announce a tie-up with fan token platform Socios.

AccessTimeIconApr 13, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 7:13 p.m. UTC

Thirteen National Football League teams will announce later Wednesday their partnerships with fan token platform Socios, following the New England Patriots into the uncharted territory of NFL crypto deals.

The teams are the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Commanders.

Socios’ current social token model has a presence in the world of European football, as the company signed a partnership deal with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the sport’s governing body, in February. The soccer platform also has deals in place with some of the largest clubs in the sport, including Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United and Paris St. Germain.

Unlike in Europe, Socios’ U.S. deals have yet to include the release of any actual tokens, largely because of regulatory concerns. The deals are described by the teams as “multi-platform marketing” agreements that include in-stadium advertising and Socios-driven fan experiences like player meet-and-greets, but no tokens – yet.

“Regulation is not a concern, it’s an educational process,” Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Socios, told CoinDesk in an interview. “In most countries in the world, you have a clear regulatory framework; in the U.S. it’s not yet completely clear. Most entities are trying to figure out what is the best path to actually launch a product, and in our case that's what we were doing with the league’s teams.”

The NFL in particular has some of the more confusing rules in place regarding digital assets. The league announced a temporary ban on all crypto and non-fungible token (NFT) deals last September, but loosened its policy in March to include sponsorship deals, but not the promotion of specific cryptocurrencies.

That’s not to say the league or its members have been hands-off of NFTs. The league explored blockchain-based tickets in November, and players like Tom Brady have long been involved in NFT ventures of their own.

Socios has set its sights beyond just football and soccer.

The company announced partnership deals with 24 National Basketball Association teams in October, though a representative told CoinDesk that number is now up to 28.

“Nobody we talk to is against the technology,” Dreyfus said in reference to teams that have yet to test the waters of digital asset partnerships. “It’s a matter of process. Usually, nobody wants to be the first person, but nobody also wants to be the last.”


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Eli Tan

Eli was a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

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