The fan token platform is branching into American soccer with the latest partnership to bring fan engagement events to MLS without issuing fan tokens.
Fan token platform Socios has partnered with 26 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams to offer fan engagement experiences and rewards, but so far, no fan tokens have been announced.
The biggest pro soccer league in the United States made a joint announcement with Socios on Wednesday, detailing that the partnership will help fans gain access to “exclusive rewards, polls, and opportunities” for the 26 partnered MLS clubs.
— Socios.com (@socios) May 4, 2022
Although the announcement did not mention any specific fan engagement events, it stated that “MLS envisions that fans will be able to have the chance to win prizes for making correct game-related predictions and for correctly answering questions.”
MLS raked in $816 million in total revenue from ticket sales and merchandising in 2019 from 8.6 million fans, according to Statista and Wikipedia. Data from 2020 and 2021 is heavily skewed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Socios has now partnered with over 125 sports teams across eight international sports leagues, according to its website. Most partnerships involve the creation of fan tokens that buyers use to participate in events and earn exclusive access to perks.
Fan tokens represent a fairly big business in their own right, with a market cap of about $255 million, according to CoinGecko data. The majority of such tokens are from European soccer teams.
Engaging with fans inevitably includes issuing memorabilia, which Socios has issued through nonfungible tokens (NFT) for European soccer teams in conjunction with the Chiliz platform. Socios and Chiliz also signed marketing partnerships with 13 NFL teams to create NFTs.
The news, however, has not been warmly welcomed by MLS fans on Twitter, with some fans venting their distaste for the partnership. A quick glance on Twitter suggests the majority of tweets from fans across the league have been negative, with many pointing to Socios’s existing partnerships with European soccer leagues.
Blowback from fans may have been fueled by mainstream media coverage of the emerging market. An April 29 article from sports news outlet The Athletic painted the tokens and their marketing tactics essentially as pump and dump schemes designed to raise revenues.
The official Twitter account for Dynamo Theory, the community supporting the Houston Dynamo MLS team, tweeted on May 5: “You will never see fans across MLS come together over something like they have [over] this Socios sponsorship.”
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When asked to confirm what it meant by the tweet, the admin from the account told Cointelegraph that the tweet was not against the partnership but said: “Just read the replies and quote tweets on every team’s announcement.” They offered the LA Galaxy’s thread as an example, which has a few unimpressed fans.
— Carlos (@OsoFresh138) May 5, 2022