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Alexandre Dreyfus isn’t a sports fanatic, nor does he play sports. The self-confessed “geeky tech guy” is nonetheless committed to enhancing the sports fan experience with Web3.
The CEO of sports fan token platform Socios sat down with Decrypt at WebSummit in Lisbon to discuss the progress of their three-month old strategic technology partnership with FC Barcelona, the nuances and potentials of fan tokens, as well as next month’s Men’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Socios x Barca
Socios penned a $100 million deal with European footballing giant FC Barcelona in August, acquiring a 24.5% stake in their recently established content creation hub Barça Studios and becoming their strategic technology partner in pursuit of Web3 endeavors.
Legally, Barcelona was required to maintain a 51% stake in Barça Studios—now rebranded to Barca Digital Entertainment (BDE)—having sold the remaining 49% share in a split-deal to Socios and Catalan-owned media corporation Orpheus Media.
“That deal was the consequence of a two-and-a-half-year relationship as we signed our first deal with Barca in February 2020,” Dreyfus revealed. “They were looking for a partner that not only will invest, but co-lead their Web3 initiative.”
Socios’ strategic tech partnership with Barcelona is expected to encompass the full spectrum of Web3 experiences, from fan tokens and NFTs to metaverse integrations.
“We are working behind the scenes,” Dreyfus stated, adding that “nothing significant is going to happen before the end of the year. After the World Cup, we’ll focus on launching new features.”
“It’s going to be about trying to give more to the fan token holders, but also to connect the players, see what assets we can use from an NFT point of view, and metaverse over the next decade.”
Favoring fan tokens
“We didn’t catch the NFT hype train because we were sticking to our product,” Dreyfus stated. “We think that fan tokens are a much more scalable and utility-driven product from a Web3 perspective to the sports industry than NFTs as we know them today.”
Fan Tokens > Sports NFTs (Fungible > Non Fungible).
After spending a few days in NYC, and talking to team owners/industry stakeholders, I'm glad to see that they understand that Fan Tokens bring much more utility, liquidity, and scalability as a product than NFTs. $CHZ
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) October 27, 2022
NFTs are blockchain-based tokens that are used to demonstrate ownership over digital or physical assets.
Shortly after our conversation, Dreyfus was scheduled to speak on center stage with Socios Global Brand Ambassador and iconic Italian ex-footballer Alessandro Del Piero about the growth of international fandom through blockchain technology.
Previewing their conversation, Dreyfus said that the role of sporting fans has evolved since the days when supporters exclusively watched their teams in the stadiums. Today’s experience involves a multi-faceted digital landscape of social content and supplemental entertainment in which the status of being a fan has become more dynamic and abstract, he explained.
“The reason that fan tokens exist is not just for the domestic/local fans, it's really to try to go after the non-local fans, the 99% of fans that are not in a stadium,” said Dreyfus. “But in 2022, what is the definition of a fan?”
He ventured a definition: “It’s a range of different tribes who consume the same brand as you and me, but just in a different way. And therefore you need different products for those different fans.”
Watching the World Cup
As to the Qatar World Cup, Dreyfus displayed his enthusiasm for the convergence of fans from across the world for the quadrennial sporting celebration. “I’m excited for it. I’m sure it’s going to drive a lot of traction… and trigger exposure [for the Socios brand],” he said.
FIFA’s decision to grant Qatar host nation status for this year's tournament has sparked palpable backlash over many issues, foremost Qatar’s dreadful human rights record and its limited freedoms for women and LGBTQ+ people—as well as the weather-inflicted hiatus imposed on all European domestic competitions.
Dreyfus respectfully declined to share his thoughts on the debate, stating, “I don’t have any thoughts. I’m a crypto guy, so I have no idea about anything else.”
He did share that he hopes “it will be Portugal versus Argentina in the final as they are two teams we’re working with.” Perhaps it will be Messi versus Ronaldo for the ultimate GOAT showdown.
“Of course, I would not mind having France somewhere along the way too,” he said. Not England?
He laughs. "Absolutely not!"