A new digital card company focused on world football recently raised $50 million with the help of Antoine Griezmann.
On the heels of NBA Top Shot conducting a spit take-worthy $94 million in transactions in a single week — yes, read that again — the sports world has been forced to take notice of the newest non-fungible token (NFT) in town: Sorare, a digital trading card brand geared toward global soccer fans.
Sorare, which also hosts a fantasy soccer game users can play with their hard-earned cards, announced at the end of February that it raised $50 million in series A funding led by venture capital firm and early Uber backer Benchmark. Among those joining in the investment effort are Gary Vaynerchuk, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and FC Barcelona superstar and World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann.
These aren’t rookie numbers. Like Lionel Messi squaring up for a set piece or Zlatan Ibrahimovic picking out a free header at the San Siro, an absolute rocket is ready for takeoff.
The Paris-based company snagged headlines on two weeks ago when one of its Cristiano Ronaldo cards sold for just over $100,000. That’s not such a far cry from the record-setting $208,000 sum a LeBron James slam dunk “moment” fetched on NBA Top Shot one day later.
If the broader soccer trading card marketplace was a sleeping giant before, it’s wide awake today.
And like so many memorable giants, it may find itself sitting on a pile of treasure.
Sorare vs. NBA Top Shot: What’s the Difference?
Crucially, there are some key divergences between Sorare and Top Shot — the kind that will save collectors the anxiety of having to make Sophie’s Crypto Choice.
While Top Shot sells NFTs representing individual player moments, like buzzer-beaters, ankle-breakers, and rim-rattlers, Sorare only offers cards featuring world footballers, with 126 top clubs represented as of this writing. This format is the basis for their killer app, Sorare Global Fantasy Football, a game that challenges players to build their best five-a-side teams and compete to win weekly prizes, all based on real-life player performance.
And they’ve got some big names behind these grand designs, too. In addition to Griezmann, Sorare counts Spanish World Cup winner Gerard Piqué, German Euro 96 hero Oliver Bierhoff, and Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand among its decorated backers.
The game is fantasy, sure. But the hype is very, very real.
What is an NFT?
Yeah, what does NFT mean, anyway? A non-fungible token is a blockchain-powered virtual collectible — think of it as a verified, non-interchangeable parcel of the internet itself. Increasingly, NFTs have become digital catnip for hobbyists, fanatics, and investors across not just sports, but visual art, gaming, viral videos (remember “Nyan Cat”?), real estate, and beyond.
In recent weeks, we witnessed the launch of Logan Paul’s NFT art offering; in dizzyingly short order, the YouTuber and occasional boxer found himself $3.5 million richer. Christie’s, the legendary auction house, debuted the first major first digital art auction Thursday, offering an NFT collage from digital artist Beeple, a.k.a. Mike Winkelmann.
Yep, slowing down the NFT train figures to be like slowing a full-sprint Mohamed Salah on an inch-perfect counterattack: not very likely.