Socios is making more strides into the U.S. sports market—this time with help from Major League Soccer.
The blockchain fan engagement company has inked a leaguewide sponsorship agreement in addition to deals with 26 MLS clubs as it expands its presence after partnering with more than 50 soccer clubs overseas.
Socios’ first foray into MLS started last November through a marketing partnership with Robert Kraft’s New England Revolution; the leaguewide agreement follows the company’s individual deals with dozens of MLS teams. D.C. United and Charlotte FC didn’t opt in to the team deal offer, as both have conflicting preexisting deals with other sponsors.
The slew of new MLS agreements come less than one month after 13 NFL teams signed similar team deals with Socios, a Chiliz-owned company. Like other deals with NBA, NHL and NFL teams, the new agreements with MLS teams don’t include controversial digital fan tokens, a nod to the league’s caution about promoting certain digital assets and cryptocurrencies.
“I can’t speculate on when or if (digital fan tokens) would be introduced,” Chris Schlosser, MLS senior vice president of emerging ventures said. “Fan tokens are interesting, but there’s a long road to go to figure out all the details and nuances of that.”
Socios partnered with European governing body UEFA earlier this year, but the deal with the Champions League organizer was met with pushback from fan groups. The fan token company, which has since signed Lionel Messi as brand ambassador, continues to penetrate the U.S. market despite the criticism.
MLS looks to leverage the company’s platform to appeal to its young and growing fanbase, while Socios aims to continue to educate fans across the nation about its offerings. Both the league and team deals will be activated as early as this weekend and will be centered around rewards and various fans prizes.
While these agreements are strictly geared for marketing efforts, MLS has made the crypto space more of a priority, with the creation of its Emerging Ventures arm last year. The league’s Board of Governors approved general partnerships, including sponsorship deals, with blockchain-related companies last year. D.C. United has since signed with blockchain solution XDC Network, Nashville SC signed crypto asset manager Valkyrie, and Inter Miami FC has a deal with cryptofinance firm XBTO.