In search of funding, the sports world seizes on NFTs

On May 17, the Sedan Ardennes Sports Club (CSSA) is launching its collection of “non-fungible tokens” (or NFT, for Non-Fungible Token). Sorry ? Who does what ? Yes, the Sedan football club, illustrious for its unexpected final of the Coupe de France in 1999 and its unexpected adventure in Ligue 1 the same year and continued until 2003, which today points to National 1 (the third division) , dare the bet NFT, these digital assets whose title of ownership is guaranteed by a particular technology, the blockchain.

→ EXPLANATION. What are NFTs, this new digital passion?

In concrete terms, the CSSA will produce exactly 11,011 digital cards bearing the image of the club’s mascot, a wild boar. Each is obviously unique, and these cards can be acquired from next May for a few “ethers”, a cryptocurrency competing with bitcoin. Buyers will then benefit from some special advantages involving them in the life of the club.

Leading sectors: luxury and sport

It is this dimension that its president, Marc Dubois, wants to emphasize first: “We want to expand and retain a community of fans well beyond our small department, which has less than 270,000 inhabitants”, he says. The economic dimension is obviously also present. Even if it is difficult for a National team to sell its image, any source of income is good to take “for a club born in 1919 and which has never managed to balance its accounts”summarizes Marc Dubois.

The CSSA is in fact not the only one to want to explore this innovative digital field. “The two sectors investing the most in this ecosystem today are luxury and sport”assures Emmanuelle Dubois, co-founder of the Coinception agency, which supports Sedan in its NFT offer.

In fact, not a day goes by without a club or athlete announcing their conversion to NFTs or other cryptoassets such as tokens. The success of the French start-up Sorare, which publishes collectible NFTs of some 6,000 footballers, valued at nearly 4 billion euros in the fall of 2021, is bound to inspire. In February 2022, one of his unique cards, that of Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, sold for more than €600,000.

→ EXPLANATION. Sorare becomes the most expensive start-up in France

The former coach of the XV of France (2007-2011) Marc Lievremont and the ex-footballer of the PSG Alain Roche, associated with the company Sponsorlive, hope to crunch the success with Fanlivecards, a collection dedicated to rugby launched this month of april. Tennis coach Patrick Miratoglou put a collection called “The Coach” on sale at the end of March, after which buyers could be invited to matches or personalized coaching sessions. In November 2021, Belgian Jumbo-Visma cyclist Wout Van Aert auctioned three “sporting moments”, NFTs of his victories in the 2021 Tour at Ventoux and on the Champs-Élysées, and the classic Strade Bianche in 2020. All sold for €47,000.

The risks of a very speculative universe

If these NFTs are later resold, each new transaction should earn a percentage for the champion and his team. For these rugby cards, Marc Lievremont promises 30% for clubs and 10% for players. “The current craze shows to what extent sports players are looking for new income, in particular to replace online bettors whose sponsorship is increasingly prohibited in Europe.underlines the economist Jérémie Bastien, teacher at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne. But for the time being, NFTs are not yet bringing them much, and it is above all the digital players who are doing well.”

→ ANALYSIS. Art, luxury and video games, NFT “digital tokens” are popular

Is the nascent market destined to develop to become unavoidable? Its strengths are real. “NFTs establish a direct link with supporters, which is very valuable from a marketing point of view, and these digital products being much easier to sell than traditional derivative products, they also make it possible to reach an audience all over the world”recalls economist Philippe Herlin, a specialist in monetary issues.

But the expert also points to the main limit of the system in the making: speculation. “When you buy an NFT, you are making a double bet. On the intrinsic value of the NFT first, which in the long term is not obvious: what will a Messi NFT be worth in five years? On the value of the cryptocurrency which is then used for exchanges, the course of which is also volatile. I am not sure that this double risk is well taken into account. »

It prevents. NFTs are on the rise, and clubs are watching with interest the technological promises of tomorrow, as observed by Emmanuelle Dubois, who concludes: “When our interlocutors hear about Web3, the new generation of the Internet, and virtual universes like the metaverse, they say to themselves that we shouldn’t miss the boat. »


Crazy about tokens

Tokens are another kind of digital “tokens”. Also sold in cryptocurrency, they allow passionate buyers to have certain privileges, for example to vote for the sentence to be inscribed on the armband of the captain of a football club. PSG, Manchester City, Juventus or Barcelona, ​​among others, publish it. About 3% of Lionel Messi’s salary at PSG is paid in tokens.

The basketball club L’Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez will innovate on April 26 by opening part of its capital to the general public in the form of tokens. “It will be a world first”has just announced the Courtepointe Sports Group, the American investor who bought the club in June 2021.


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