Serie A has become the first soccer league to partner with a cryptocurrency platform after the Italian top flight agreed a deal with Crypto.com.
Under an agreement announced today, the cryptocurrency exchange will initially sponsor this month’s final of the Coppa Italia.
The top-tier Italian league said the partnership “is expected to extend long into the future".
To commemorate the Coppa Italia final between Juventus and Atalanta on 19 May, Crypto.com will make a special NFT (non-fungible token) collection available, including the official trophy and match highlights.
Serie A will additionally collaborate with the Hong Kong-based platform to create exclusive NFT collectibles.
The league becomes the second sports property to launch NFTs with Crypto.com, joining the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team which did so to mark Aston Martin's return to the sport after a gap of more than 60 years.
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Luigi De Siervo, Serie A chief executive, said: “We are the first football league in the world to sign an agreement in this new market which is extremely innovative and relevant not only for sports fans, where other world-class leagues such as the NBA have been operating in recent months.
“In this way Lega Serie A aims to expand its target audience and continues the international growth of the brand, always looking to the future and innovation. The Coppa Italia Final will offer millions of fans around the world an exciting experience not only on the pitch, but also before and after the game, thanks to the many commercial and marketing initiatives that we will organize with our partners".
Kris Marszalek, co-founder and chief executive of Crypto.com, added: “We are proud to collaborate with Lega Serie A, the latest in an exciting roadmap of sports partnerships we’ll soon be announcing. Through our partnership, we will bring together the best of blockchain technology and football by co-creating NFTs sure to become instant classics and highly coveted collectibles.”
Cryto.com also recently partnered with the Montreal Canadiens of North American ice hockey’s NHL.
Cryptocurrency sponsorships in sports continue to be on the rise as the sector seeks to become more mainstream and England’s Premier League could soon follow Serie A into the market.
The league is considering selling clips and highlights from its matches as NFTs as it seeks to capitalise on the growing crypto industry and add another revenue stream, according to the Financial Times.
This would follow the route taken by basketball’s NBA, which launched digital blockchain-based collectibles platform NBA Top Shot in October 2020 and has achieved over $230 million in transactions since, 90 per cent of which have come in the past three months.
However, it is unclear if Premier League clubs will agree to sell NFTs collectively as the bigger teams could choose to handle this internally and seek to generate additional income through individual partnerships.
Cryptocurrency has also entered American football’s NFL with the New York Giants becoming the first team in the league to join the wave in a tie-up with Grayscale, the cryptocurrency asset manager.
As part of an exclusive partnership, Grayscale will serve as the team’s official digital currency asset management partner.
Giants chief commercial officer Pete Guelli said the franchise wanted a company that “could guide us in navigating the cryptocurrency ecosystem” and added that Grayscale “has the institutional knowledge and network of partners that we can access as crypto continues to evolve".
The company will also also be a presenting home game sponsor, a supporting sponsor of the Giants training camp, and host voluntary, educational seminars on cryptocurrencies for the team’s personnel each year.
In addition, the two parties will work together on philanthropic initiatives, with Grayscale to be the presenting sponsor of the Giants Foundation Golf Outing.