Fans of South Korean professional soccer will now be able to collect and trade digital tokens representing league players and use them to play fantasy soccer games run by the firm Sorare.
The South Korean soccer association K League announced a licensing agreement with the blockchain enabled fantasy soccer platform on Wednesday. The agreement gives Sorare the right to include over 400 players from the league’s upper division onto its platform, which currently includes players from prominent teams including Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Napoli, according to a press release.
Based in Paris, France, Sorare uses the Ethereum blockchain to generate unique digital cards representing players, which can be traded by users. Upon joining, a user is given a random set of five cards they can use to build a team and participate in weekly league competitions. Users have the option of buying tokens representing other players to improve their team and – depending on how the soccer players perform in real life – may receive rewards in ether or more trading cards.
According to Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia, the firm’s fantasy soccer platform currently has about 3,000 monthly active users that can choose to play with players from over 100 different soccer clubs. He also said the company generated about $200,000 in sales last month.
“Collecting and engaging with your favorite football (soccer) players is part of the initiative to attract more people into following the K League,” said K League, in the press release.
Although betting on online sports is illegal in South Korea, Sorare said the firm’s fantasy soccer is not betting because there is no financial sacrifice users have to make.
“Sorare is more like a mixture between trading cards and fantasy football,” Julia said. He added that users may choose to buy cards to improve their team, but they can play for free and a bad performance from the player would not mean that they lose money.
Sorare said using the Ethereum blockchain ensures the authenticity and scarcity of digital player tokens. The scarcity is what makes the tokens valuable and likely to appreciate in value if a player performs well. One of the digital tokens issued for soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is currently valued at over €14,000 (US$15,700) on Sorare’s website.