FC Barcelona launches nostalgia-heavy NFTs as current on-field play disappoints

November 4, 2021, 8:30 AM UTC

FC Barcelona, one of Europe’s most storied professional soccer teams, is planning to launch a series of digital tokens linked to some of the most celebrated moments from its past.

The non-fungible tokens (NFTs), each displaying a short video clip or still image of a key episode in the soccer club’s 122-year history, will be underpinned by the same digital ledger system that powers cryptocurrency Ethereum. They will be available for sale on the Israeli-based NFT platform Ownix, which was founded earlier this year.

NFTs have grown rapidly in popularity over the past 24 months, as both collectors and speculators have poured into the nascent market. A number of U.S. sports teams and leagues, including the National Basketball Association, have launched NFTs, which combine aspects of old-fashioned trading cards with the 21st-century gold rush mentality of cryptocurrency trading.

“The club is constantly looking for new ways to connect with its fans, and we believe that creating these NFTs is a unique opportunity to continue growing and consolidating the Barça brand by bringing unique moments that have made Barça fans dream and FC Barcelona a well-known club on every level,” Joan Laporta, the club’s president, said in a statement.

While FC Barcelona noted in its press release that it was the “first major [soccer] club to launch” an NFT tied specifically to moments from throughout its entire history, the club is in many ways late to the party. There are already more than two dozen European soccer teams with digital tokens. They proved especially popular with clubs eager to generate revenue and stay engaged with fans during COVID-19 lockdowns that prevented fans from attending matches.

In fact, one of Barcelona’s biggest former stars, Lionel Messi, who stunned fans earlier this year when he announced he was leaving the club to play for a top Paris team, already has his own successful NFT.

And Barcelona itself has a different digital token, available on the Socios.com NFT platform, that it launched in June 2020. All 600,000 of those tokens were snapped up for a total of €1.2 million ($1.4 million) within hours of being made available. The Socios platform uses its own blockchain technology, which it calls Chiliz, rather than the larger Ethereum network.

It might be that Barcelona is so keen to create this new nostalgia-soaked digital token because its current play has hardly excited fans: The once-perennial champions are currently stuck in ninth place in Spain’s LaLiga, with a record of four wins, four draws, and three losses.

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