Sorare, an NFT-based fantasy football game, has raised $680m (£497m) in Europe’s biggest ever Series B funding round.
On the Sorare platform users buy, sell and exchange digital football cards, representing players, to build a fantasy team. Each card is an NFT meaning that it is unique and ownership is verifiable on a blockchain.
“Sorare’s game is born from our love for football and our expertise in tech. We saw the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs brought to unlock a new way for football clubs, footballers, and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other,” said Nicolas Julia, CEO and co founder of Sorare.
The platform has a new valuation of $4.3bn following the funding round which was led by SoftBank with participation from Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital and Liontree. Football players Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand and César Azpilicueta also participated in the round.
Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International and COO of SoftBank Group will join Sorare’s Board of Directors.
“Sorare sits at the intersection of two really exciting industries in digital collectibles and fantasy sports,” said Claure.
The news comes after the NFT market experienced rapid growth in the first half of 2021, with an estimated $2.5bn of sales volume this year. Sorare has benefitted from the hype, growing its user base to 600,000 and seeing card sales volume top $150m since January 2021.
Paul Lee, global head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, commented on the pairing of NFTs and sports saying that digital tokens offer “a new type of fan experience.”
“In the coming months, new content captured during matches is likely to be sold as NFTs which will drive revenues and, in the future, as content is traded this is likely to continue to draw in commissions for NFT platforms,” Lee said. “We’re likely to see the market evolve as NFTs are applied to other areas, for instance e-tickets could be sold as an NFT, applied to physical collecting cards or even match balls.”
The platform, which has licensed players from over 180 football organisations including Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus, the French and German Football Federation, plans to onboard the top 20 football leagues globally and the top 50 football associations.