In recent months, many sports NFT platforms have gained considerable traction. In football, the French startup Sorare has established itself as the leader, with partnerships with over 135 football clubs, including a few clubs with active Luxembourgish players.
What exactly are NFTs?
An NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a digital asset. Like Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), it runs on blockchain technology, thanks to which anyone can verify the authenticity of the asset. Unlike Bitcoin, it is not “fungible”, meaning that it cannot be interchanged against another unit of the same value. Each NFT is unique and irreplaceable, thereby making it impossible for one non-fungible token to be equal to another.
What is Sorare?
Founded in 2018, Sorare is the world’s biggest football NFT platform. In February 2021, it raised $50 million in Series A round led by investment firm Benchmark, with investments from Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian, Vaynermedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuck and FC Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann.
The Paris-based company issues licensed blockchain-based cards of football players, often described as the digital equivalents of Panini cards.
In contrast to many NFT platforms however, Sorare is not only a marketplace but also a fantasy game. When signing up, users get 10 free cards, which can’t be sold but can be used in the game. Users can then purchase premium NFT cards tokenised on the Ethereum blockchain, either on the primary market, where new cards are auctioned, or on the secondary market, where anyone can buy or sell cards. You can either buy cards with ether, the cryptocurrency built on the Ethereum blockchain, or with the equivalent amount in euros. There are three types of premium cards: rare (100 copies), super rare (10 copies) and unique (1 copy).
Users can then compose virtual teams of five footballers, which are ranked based on the performance of the players in real life, and attributed points. Depending on the tournaments entered and the cards used, users with the most points can win prizes such as premium cards or a set amount of ether.
Next to being an investment and collection product, this gamification aspect adds a crucial utility value to Sorare NFTs.
Buying NFTs of Luxembourgish footballers
There are currently four Luxembourgish players on Sorare: Michael Pinto (Sparta Rotterdam), Danel Sinani (Waasland-Beveren), Fred Emmings (Minnesota United FC) and Maxime Chanot (New York City FC). As the French startup is frequently announcing partnerships with new clubs, it should only be a matter of time before one will be able to purchase a Leandro Barreiro or Gerson Rodrigues card.
At the moment, the cheapest card for a Luxembourgish player on the secondary market is a Michael Pinto rare card, which features for €20.12. You could also purchase a Danel Sinani rare card for €67.05, and a Maxime Chanot rare card for €242.57. Finally, the cheapest Fred Emmings rare card features at €349.02. The 17-year-old goalkeeper born in Saint Paul, the hometown of Minnesota United FC, holds the dual Luxembourg/U.S. citizenship (on his Sorare card, only the Luxembourg flag is displayed). His relatively high price can partly be explained by his young age. The buyer might hope to resell him at an even higher price in a few years’ time. On the other hand, Maxime Chanot’s value comes from the fact that he is regularly playing and performing at a high level, which gives his card a high utility in the game.
However, there is also the possibility to bid for a card on the primary market, which can sometimes be cheaper than cards listed on the secondary market. In any case, super rare and unique cards will sell for a much higher price that rare cards. The most expensive Luxembourg player Sorare card ever sold was a Maxime Chanot super rare card that was auctioned at €1,500.85 on April 27th 2021.
Is it worth it?
There is obviously no clear-cut answer. For collection purposes, it all depends how much one is ready to pay. For investment purposes, it depends if Sorare will succeed in maintaining its leading position as the most important NFT platform in football, and how successful the player on the card is going to be in the future. For utility purposes, the value of a card will depend on the player’s performance on the pitch.