The Fan Controlled Football league is about to become feline-controlled football. Following a $40 million Series A funding round, the experimental sports startup is taking a big step into the metaverse, handing management responsibilities for two of its eight teams to existing NFT communities: the Bored Ape Yacht Club and the Gutter Cat Gang.
In making its debut last year with four teams, FCF allowed fans viewing on Twitch to vote live for play calls. For its second season (or Season v2.0, as FCF calls it), the league is expanding to eight teams, with four tied to NFTs. Another team will be led by the Knights of Degen community, while the last newcomer is helmed by techno DJ Steve Aoki and anonymous crypto collector 888.
FCF plans to sell its own NFTs later this month, allocating 8,888 customizable avatars for each of the four new teams. Two-thousand NFTs per team will be set aside for members of the existing groups like the Bored Apes. NFT owners will contribute to the team name and logo design processes for the new expansion clubs, the drafting of players, and playcalling. FCF is also planning some real-world perks.
Beginning on April 16, FCF’s 7-on-7 games will be played at a new venue in Atlanta, in front of up to 2,500 fans, and will air on DAZN, Peacock and NBCLX, in addition to Twitch.
Animoca Brands and Delphi Digital led the funding round. They were joined by Gemini Frontier Fund and 6th Man Ventures, as well as previous investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Verizon Ventures and others.
“I’ve been talking since 2018 about how we could leverage blockchain,” FCF SEO Sohrob Farudi said in an interview. “I think it’s gone from, ‘Wow, that’s kind of crazy out there,’ to ‘Oh, that’s actually the future,’ and we have a chance to embrace it and be first…. I was able to get more traction for where I thought this business was going earlier than I anticipated, and this round proves that that’s the case.”
Farudi added that the FCF is also working on an actual video game featuring the Ballerz NFTs, with a target to launch before the end of the year.
Whereas most sports leagues use geographic affiliation to develop fan bases, the first four FCF teams relied on star power to generate connection, with the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Quavo representing teams. This time around, the league is turning to preexisting communities.
“We’ve got four teams that are coming on board that actually already have a fan base,” Farudi said. “I’m sure there are a lot of Bored Ape holders out there that aren’t [football fans], that are going to be like, ‘Well, if the Bored Apes have a football team, I guess I’m going to have to be a football fan now.’”