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Will Fan Tokens Redefine Engagement in Sports?

Read 4 min
Coins spiraling in a circle
— Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that can be exchanged for merchandise, tickets and experiences from a team or club.
— The tokens offer an exciting opportunity for supporters to become more involved in their club and interact directly with the team.
—The tokens offer clubs a chance to create a two-way communication platform with fans to get an idea of what to offer and what fans want.
— Fan tokens take support beyond observation; and encourages and promotes interaction and engagement on a deeper level.

Wondering how crypto can impact sports? it’s time to learn about fan tokens!

Any major sports week-end often shows us two things: Fans are loyal. And fans are passionate about their clubs. Whether it’s football, fighting, or Formula One, fans are ready to invest time, energy and love into their clubs – and it goes further simply watching them.

But historically it’s been difficult to engage with the club or team beyond fanfare. Sure, one can wear the merch, watch the game, match or race, scream with other adoring fans, but engaging directly with the club? It’s not really a thing. Or at least, it wasn’t. Fan tokens and the implementation of blockchain is set to change this.

But before we get into that, let’s look at what a fan token actually is.

The What: What exactly are fan tokens?

A fan token is a type of cryptocurrency that, when purchased, allows access to a number of exciting club-specific rewards and membership perks. 

Like other cryptocurrencies, fan tokens are fungible (unlike digital art in the form of NFTs) meaning that one token is valued the same as another token and can be exchanged for things on the platform like merchandise, exclusive tickets, and VIP experiences.

You can think of a fan token kind of like an arcade ticket, in the sense that each ticket is valued the same and they can be exchanged for some sweet prizes. Except, unlike arcade tickets, you buy fan tokens (rather than exclusively win them) and they exist as digital assets on the blockchain and not, well, pieces of paper that come from an arcade game. 

Like cryptocurrency and NFTs, crypto fan tokens are built on the blockchain. However, they are relatively new crypto assets.

In a very tech-friendly nutshell, fans can buy fan tokens directly from the platform using an associated cryptocurrency. Right now, the leading platform to sell fan tokens is Socios and users can buy fan tokens through Socios using the platform’s cryptocurrency Chiliz ($CHZ).  

The basics of Chiliz

So basically, you use your traditional money, exchange it for crypto (in this case Chiliz), and then trade your crypto for tokens. (The full monty of how-to-buy fan tokens can be found here.)

Each fan token, bought on Socios’ platform is purchased using Chiliz and they are priced individually. Initially, the club holds a presale – or a fan token offering (FTO) – at a set rate. Thereafter, fans can buy their tokens from the platform’s Partner Page or by trading with other fans. 

Chiliz Tokens et Fan Tokens : De quoi s'agit-il ? - Socios
Image Credit:

Much like with other assets, the more popular a token is, the more highly it’ll be valued. So if more fans see potential in their team and the associated token, the demand will rise, as will the value. 

The How: Fan Tokens disrupting engagement in the sports scene

The concept gained attention in 2020 when FC Barcelona launched a fan token for club supporters. Since then, the idea has taken off in a major way – and it’s offering a remarkable opportunity to open up what has been an otherwise exclusive scene.

The kicker of a fan token is that ownership doesn’t just represent that a person is a supporter of the team. Instead, the token is a way for clubs to open the door and let fans interact with them directly. Fan tokens offer some pretty cool perks and allow access to influence some of the club’s decisions.

In the action: Ways fans can – and are – getting involved

Users who own a certain amount of fan tokens are given the right to vote on different things about their club. The club determines what fans can vote on and decide but they generally include things like the teams’ kit design, the tour bus aesthetic, which sportsperson from the club they’d like to see do an Instagram takeover, and even match locations. 

Obviously, some of these perks depend on how many tokens you own and what the team can offer, but the underlying and exciting implication is that supporters have brand new access to engage with the club. 

Expanding in the sports scene

While football might be the sport to adopt fan tokens rapidly, fan tokens aren’t exclusive to it. There are racing teams, gaming teams, cricket clubs, and baseball to name but a few.

Two Formula One teams have onboarded fan tokens, with Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo have teamed up with Socios to offer rewards including exclusive access to games, forums, and polls about team-related aspects.

Very recently, UFC fans were given the chance to get in on the action too. With Socios as a partner, UFC offers token holders perks like getting to vote on which fighters will face each other in features and gives them a platform to engage with the fighters choosing which questions to ask them in media releases, for example.

The Why: Dismantling the top-down approach and including fans in brand new ways

Fan tokens are remodelling involvement and it is set to disrupt the top-down narrative where a club has full authority over engagement and supporters don’t really have a voice. So, when a supporter shouts “we won the game!” – they’re not exactly wrong. It means there’s an element where fans really are part of the team – and their opinion counts for something. 

Moreover, fan tokens are worth something – and not just in the sentimental way. There’s a value attached to each token and fans can benefit from the positive performance of their club. If a solid performance drives more fans to buy tokens, the price of the tokens increase. This is a neat little contrast to the old model where fans pay with love, loyalty and their loot and get nothing tangible in return.

The Future of Fan Tokens: Fanfare and integrated interaction

One of the most exciting things about fan tokens is that they give power to supporters in certain decisions and they reshape the way they can interact with the club. Within the last year, we’ve seen hundreds of teams and clubs jump on the idea. 

Just taking the briefest of ganders at Socios’ partner page and we’ve got the likes of Juventus, Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, UFC, Formula One teams Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin in the mix. And it seems the party is only just getting started. It’s likely that as more teams come on board the concept, more opportunities will emerge for fans to be included in decision-making.

The future is fiercely engagement-focused and the innovative technology is prime to become part and parcel of fan support.

Knowledge is power

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