All 28 MLS clubs will soon be represented on Sorare, which allows users to buy NFT cards and enter teams in real-money competitions. Founded in Paris, Sorare opened a U.S. office late in 2021. MLS players have been available in-game thanks to a 2020 tie-up with the MLSPA.
“MLS is our first league here, and I think it will really help grow our U.S. presence and set us up well for our future plans in the market,” Sorare head of business development Michael Meltzer said in an interview.
Sorare has over 1.5 million users across more than 184 countries. Over 250 soccer leagues and clubs now have deals with the company, which raised $680 million last year. Because of the way the online competitions are set up, fantasy teams can include players from multiple leagues around the world, giving global soccer fans another reason to follow MLS, and vice versa. MLS could also benefit from its schedule, which runs during the summer offseason for many top European leagues.
Financial terms of the deal were not announced, though it is expected to include guaranteed licensing revenue as well as royalty elements. “The partnership includes media, digital media, and activations across all league assets” as well, according to Meltzer. “Sorare will have a significant presence” in MLS.
For MLS, the deal comes after establishing an emerging ventures team in 2021 to grow the sport’s fan base, survey new revenue opportunities, and integrate tech that could elevate play quality. MLS SVP for media Christopher Schlosser said the group has so far been most active looking into potential sports betting and blockchain partnerships. Four clubs have deals with crypto companies “with more to come,” Schlosser said, but this is the league’s first official NFT deal.
“Our fan base is naturally attuned to new technology,” Schlosser said. “So that gives us a great opportunity. We think we can be the front porch for innovation…. We want to make it really easy for great, young companies to come do deals.”