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Can you 'own' a goal? Collectible NFTs rolling into elite soccer

Can you 'own' a goal? Collectible NFTs rolling into elite soccer
Can you 'own' a goal? Collectible NFTs rolling into elite soccer   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  
By Reuters

<div> <p>By Elizabeth Howcroft</p> <p><span class="caps">LONDON</span> – It might have seemed a long shot a year ago when a company built a digital platform for basketball fans to buy and trade video highlights of <span class="caps">NBA</span> games that they could probably watch for free online. </p> <p>It was more bewildering when some clips changed hands for tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars. </p> <p>These highlights, endorsed by the U.S. National Basketball Association, were sold as non-fungible tokens, or <span class="caps">NFT</span>s – crypto-assets that uses blockchain to authenticate their ownership, giving them a certain cachet and tradeable value.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">NBA</span> Top Shot platform has proved so popular that the crypto company behind it, Dapper Labs, announced on Wednesday that it had raised $250 million and was now branching into soccer through a deal with Spain’s elite LaLiga division.</p> <p>So just like some basketball fans – or speculators – have paid north of $200,000 for a video of a LeBron James slam dunk, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid enthusiasts will be able to “own” glorious goals by Karim Benzema or Luis Suarez.</p> <p>While the whole concept leaves many people baffled, there’s serious money behind it.</p> <p>Dapper Labs’ new investors include Singapore wealth fund <span class="caps">GIC</span>, which joins the likes of hedge fund Coatue, a16z and GV (formerly Google Ventures) in backing the three-year-old Vancouver-based company. </p> <p>The numbers tell their own tale.</p> <p><span class="caps">NBA</span> Top Shot, launched in October last year, was among the first <span class="caps">NFT</span> products to take off as the sector gained popularity in early 2021. Monthly sales went from $1.5 million in December 2020 to $43.8 million in January, then peaked at $232 million in February.</p> <p>But the growth slowed in the second quarter of the year. By June 2021, monthly sales were at $53.1 million. </p> <p>Dapper Labs said the soccer platform would launch in June 2022 and allow people to buy <span class="caps">NFT</span>s of video “moments” from Spain’s top teams.</p> <p>‘<span class="caps">BORED</span> <span class="caps">APES</span>’ <span class="caps">FOR</span> $24 <span class="caps">MILLION</span></p> <p><span class="caps">NFT</span>s are a new phenomenon, having exploded in popularity across various areas during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online. </p> <p>They are becoming increasingly mainstream. In the art world for example, a set of “Bored Ape” <span class="caps">NFT</span>s sold for $24.4 million in a recent Sotheby’s online auction.</p> <p>It is a sign of their financial potential that LaLiga – one of the most prestigious divisions in the world’s most popular sport – is keen to hitch its wagon to the tech.</p> <p>“The partnership between LaLiga and Dapper Labs will bring us the closest we’ve ever been to our fans worldwide through a new and growing medium, and alongside the industry partner that created and jump-started the entire <span class="caps">NFT</span> movement,” said LaLiga president Javier Tebas.</p> <p>As the market for crypto assets continues to heat up, collectible and sports-related <span class="caps">NFT</span>s were the most popular categories in the first half of the year, according to NonFungible.com, a website which tracks <span class="caps">NFT</span> market data.</p> <p>Sorare, a fantasy soccer <span class="caps">NFT</span> game, said on Tuesday that it had raised $680 million in funding from investors led by SoftBank.</p> <p>Dapper Labs, which has also built a blockchain, Flow, and an <span class="caps">NFT</span> game called CryptoKitties, said it would use $250 million to “continue to scale and support major additional brand-driven sports, entertainment and music based products coming online and being developed on the Flow blockchain”.</p> <p/> </div>