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La Liga becomes first major league to sign a significant NFT partnership: Will other competitions follow?

La Liga has become the first major league to sign a major non-fungible token (NFT) partnership, in what has created a significant new revenue stream for the competition.

The Spanish competition has struck a deal with Sorare, a fantasy football platform, and in turn will launch NFT’s for all of the league’s players.

Sorare is a marketplace to trade digital cards from more than 180 football clubs, with over 500,000 users signed up on the platform.

Through this partnership La Liga fans, collectors and fantasy football players will be able to freely trade and play with digital cards of players from the league.

Sorare has strong ambitions for the future after securing their agreement with La Liga, with the company planning to partner with all of the world’s top 20 football leagues by the end of next year.

The deal with La Liga covers both the first and second divisions in Spain and highlights the global interest in the ever-growing NFT card space, which has garnered close to $130 million in card sales this year.

Javier Tebas, President of La Liga, explained further about their partnership with Sorare to the La Liga Newsletter: “At La Liga we are always looking for innovative ways to offer our fans new and exciting experiences and to broaden the appeal of our competition, the greatest in the world. This partnership with Sorare, the most exciting sports NFT projects today, enables us to reach new audiences globally and gives existing fans additional ways they can get involved with the players and the clubs they love.”

Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare told the La Liga Newsletter: “NFTs are the future of gIobaI sports fandom because they allow fans to come together and to feel ownership of the sports they love. This partnership isn’t just a sign of Sorare’s growing leadership in the NFT sports space, it is a major signal of intent by the sporting world that it sees Sorare’s unique ability to connect fans with sports through NFTs as a crucial part of their plans for the future.”

“La Liga is one of the best leagues in the world, home to some of the most exciting clubs and footballers on earth. We are very proud that they have become our first ever league partnership, and we are looking forward to working together in the years ahead,” Julia added.

Sorare cards are NFTs, which means each of those cards are unique, scarce and its ownership able to be publicly verifiable via the blockchain. The company’s combination of NFT technology with sports cards and a fantasy game is the leading next-gen offering within the world game. Through the collecting, owning and trading of these rare digital collectibles, Sorare has created an experience where users can own their game, build connections in the real world and control their assets in a secure, safe place.

The next generation gaming experience will help La Liga and its teams expand their international brands, reaching fans and new types of audiences, including crypto-enthusiasts across the US and Asia.

This partnership means Sorare now has the majority of the top 100 football clubs in the world under license, including powerhouses such as Liverpool FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC and Juventus FC.

Despite these individual clubs signing up, the other 4 major leagues have not entered a NFT partnership.

With a new digital football hub set to be implemented by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) in the coming months, gaming competitions such as fantasy football, are most likely set to return for fans of the A-Leagues.

A partnership with a platform such as Sorare, will be extremely beneficial for the local professional game.

Utilising NFT trading cards for A-League football players across fantasy football will be unique and fit in with their ongoing plans for digital innovation across the domestic competitions.

Alongside this, it is a revenue stream for the APL which looks to connect the younger generation to the game and reap similar rewards to what has previously been implemented across the E-League.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Is Australia ready for a two-year World Cup cycle?

Battle lines are being drawn between FIFA and key stakeholders, as it remains to be seen whether Australia will support the push for a two-year World Cup cycle.

FIFA’s minutes from the 71st Congress, where Saudi Arabia put forward the motion to study the viability of a two-year cycle, doesn’t include what member federations voted for in the motion.

Football Australia hasn’t stated publicly whether they were one of the 166 nations who voted for the motion, or whether they support the plans.

Football Australia is instead adopting a wait-and-see approach, to avoid taking a position before any proposal for changes are put forward after the viability study is completed.

Two-time A-League Coach of the Year Ernie Merrick believes the push from FIFA for a two-year World Cup cycle is because of business and money.

“It’s about profit and loss. It’s not about the people in the sport really, and FIFA are always competing with their confederations, of which there are six, and FIFA only have one event where they make substantial money from revenue and that’s every four years,” Merrick said.

“So in effect FIFA loses money for three years, and then the fourth year and makes massive profits mainly from broadcast, ticket sales, and sponsorship from a World Cup.”

The majority of FIFA’s $8.7 billion in revenue between 2015-2018 came from the 2018 Men’s tournament.

The commercial value of another World Cup every four years is incredibly attractive to the governing body as a way to boost its already full coffers.

Australian football will struggle to keep up with other countries if the World Cup is hosted every two years, according to Merrick.

“At the same time a lot of countries, including Asian countries, are spending an enormous amount of money on facilities and preparation setups for national competition. We all know of England’s setup, which is huge at St George’s Park, and here we don’t have a designated specific setup to prepare national teams,” he said.

“There’s a lot of infrastructure that will have to change to give Australia a chance to qualify on a regular basis. We certainly have good players and good coaches and we can compete with anyone regarding players, coaching and strategy but when it comes to the sort of money involved in preparing a national team, friendly games, and the amount of travel involved, Australia is really going to suffer.”

Michael Valkanis – former A-League coach, player and current Greece assistant coach – believes that without aligning with FIFA international dates, it means the A-League will struggle to adapt to a two-year World Cup cycle.

“We saw the effects of the Socceroos going away to play, and it always makes it difficult on A-League coaches and teams to support that.” Valkanis said.

“You can see the effects it can have on finals games, and we’ve been crying out for a long time that we become parallel with the rest of the world with international dates.”

Some of Australia’s biggest competitors in the AFC are showing ambivalence towards the concept.

“It would depend on how it would all be organised,” a Korean FA official told Deutsche Welle.

“If we want to have consistent success then we need to play as many competitive games against South American and European teams as possible. At the moment, we play one or two games every four years if we qualify. It’s not enough.”

While the viability of a two-year World Cup cycle is being studied, it is unclear how determined FIFA is to implement such a radical change to the football calendar against intense opposition from some of its members.

Merrick believes the end result could be FIFA demanding a portion of the confederation’s revenue.

“I think four years is probably a better situation at the moment – maybe three years down the track – but I think confederations will have to come to an arrangement with FIFA, and FIFA will want to take some of their revenue somehow through licensing,” Merrick said.

Those involved in international football already believe that the best model is the one we have currently, something that Valkanis is a strong fan of.

“I am a traditionalist. I think the World Cup is something special that stands out from any other competition in the world,” he said.

“The only other event that comes close is the Olympic Games, and to change the format so we see it every two years instead of four, I don’t think it leaves it the same. It is special the way it is.”

Football Australia CEO James Johnson will have a challenge on his hands navigating what a change in the World Cup’s schedule means for Australian football, as FIFA continues to push for increased revenue from the game.

Football Coaches Australia welcomes Sports Integrity Australia independent investigation

FCA

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) welcomed the broad independent investigative mandate provided by Football Australia to Sport Integrity Australia, encompassing four different areas – harassment, bullying, intimidation and discrimination.

FCA encourages current and former players, administrators, referees and coaches, as well as parents and others involved in football in Australia to come forward through this process to enhance the positive cultural development in our sport.

FCA President Phil Moss stated: “As an organisation we have sought transparency, due process and procedural fairness from day one, so we fully support an independent and wide-ranging investigation into the culture of football in Australia.

“We must, as a game, hold ourselves to the highest of standards.

“The culture we live every day, how we treat each other and ensuring we are setting up the next generation to enjoy our great game is of paramount importance and entirely non-negotiable.”

Newly elected FCA Vice President Sarah West endorsed Phil’s statement:

“Everyone in our sport, from professional players, coaches, referees, administrators and staff through to those involved at the grass roots, has the right to participate in a positive and safe environment and to be treated with respect and fairness.

“There is no place in our game for abuse or harassment of any kind. This unacceptable behaviour harms people and diminishes the game.

“As coaches we have a duty of care to those we are entrusted to work with and must endeavour to always create environments which provide safety, trust and inclusivity so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful game on and off the pitch.”

Media inquiries can be directed to FCA Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Warry, on +61 417 346 312

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