Premier League Inks Deal With Digital Trading Card Platform Sorare

The English soccer league has been considering a partnership with a crypto platform to expand its NFT offerings since 2021.

AccessTimeIconJan 30, 2023 at 12:20 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 30, 2023 at 7:27 p.m. UTC

The English Premier League has linked up with digital trading card company Sorare to expand its non-fungible token (NFT) offerings.

The deal between the English soccer league and the NFT-based fantasy sports game allows NFT purchasers to build their own teams and compete in a fantasy version of the competition, Sorare said in a blog post on Monday. The deal will last for four years and is worth a total of 120 million British pounds ($150 million), CityAM reported.

Sorare offers a free-to-play competition that allows its 3 million users to compete by collecting soccer players in the form of non-fungible tokens. These NFTs are then submitted into a fantasy team that generate rewards based on real-world performances. The platform also has a competition where users can purchase limited NFTs for cryptocurrency to generate higher rewards, those NFTs can also be traded with other users.

The company raised $680 million in a Series B round with a valuation of $4.3 billion in September, attracting investment from SoftBank Vision Fund and LionTree among others.

The Premier League joins more than 280 global soccer organizations and all 30 Major League Baseball teams on the Paris-based platform.

"Sorare's digital cards and innovative online game represent a new way for fans to feel closer to the Premier League whether they are watching in the stadium or from around the world," said Premier League CEO Richard Masters in a statement.

In October Sky News said the Premier League planned to hold talks with its 20 clubs to discuss a multiyear deal with Sorare. Sources told the outlet that the league had previously been on the verge of signing an agreement with blockchain software company ConsenSys.

Reports first surfaced in 2021 that the Premier League was taking a “slow and cautious” approach to partnering with a crypto platform to offer new avenues for fan engagement.

Sky News also reported that a separate deal between the Premier League and NBA Top Shots creator Dapper Labs was being discussed.

Sorare is currently under pressure from both both U.K. and French gambling regulators, with investigations looking into whether Sorare requires a gambling license.

The company said in October it is “very confident" it does not offer any forms of gambling, although it bowed to pressure one month later by stating that it would expand free access to its games.

The French National Gambling Authority (ANJ) threatened that if changes aren't implemented by March it can impose fines of up 5% of Sorare's annual turnover.

While Sorare doesn't offer traditional gambling products like sports betting, the speculative nature of trading NFTs that are valued based on real-world events walks a fine line between what does and doesn't constitute gambling.

UPDATE (Jan. 30, 2022, 13:20 UTC): Adds context throughout.


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Rosie Perper

Rosie Perper was the Deputy Managing Editor for Web3 and Learn, focusing on the metaverse, NFTs, DAOs and emerging technology like VR/AR. She has previously worked across breaking news, global finance, tech, culture and business. She holds a small amount of BTC and ETH and several NFTs. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, The Airdrop.

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