Fans of top-tier English football teams will be able to use NFT playing cards of their favorite players in a fantasy football league.
The Premier League has teamed up with fantasy sports league Sorare to offer NFT playing cards of players from the 20 top-ranked teams in England.
The NFT cards can be used in Sorare's fantasy football league, with players choosing five cards to create a team that performs based on those players' actions on the pitch. Top-performing fantasy teams win rewards.
The so-called "common cards" are chosen for free when joining a new league, while limited edition "scarcity cards" for each player can be bought, traded or won in league play.
The deal was reported to be worth $37 million (£30 million) a year for four years, or nearly $150 million (£120 million).
While the NFT market collapsed in 2022, teams in sports around the world continue to embrace NFTs and NFT-based games as a way to build fan engagement. Along with soccer, U.S. Major League Baseball and the NBA's basketball teams also work with Sorare, although the latter remains in beta.
"The way that supporters follow their favorite teams and players is evolving and the Premier League is always looking for ways to engage with fans," said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters. The NFTs and fantasy league, he added:
"Represent a new way for them to feel closer to the Premier League whether they are watching in the stadium or from around the world."
Gambling regulators in the U.K. and France have investigated Sorare looking at whether the company needs gambling licenses. In November, the company agreed to expand free access under pressure from French gambling authorities, but was not required to get a gambling license.
With three million users worldwide, Sorare also offers a free-to-play version of its fantasy league using its NFTs. A separate league with higher rewards is accessible via limited edition cards that are also tradeable, CoinDesk said.
Rewards range from additional player cards to "Ether, match tickets, signed kits, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as playing five-a-side with football stars," the Premier League said in a Jan. 30 release.
Sorare has introduced Premier League NFTs that can be used in league-specific competitions, as well as draft-based and financial fair play modes, as well as "capped-mode competitions" in which the number of high-value player NFTs is limited.