Crypto’s Takeover of Sports

Alisa Tkach

Suggesting that cryptocurrency has finally separated itself from the perception of being something illegal.

Suggesting that cryptocurrency has finally separated itself from the perception of being something illegal.

One of the first signs of crypto’s mass adoption is the passage of relevant advertising on wide screens. Two iconic recent events – promoting a crypto exchange featuring one of the greatest athletes, LeBron James, during the Super Bowl and renaming the legendary LA Lakers home Staples Center to the Arena — will no longer allow the crypto industry to go unnoticed.

The sponsorship of the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar brings crypto to an even larger audience, given that more than 3.5 billion people watched the previous World Cup. Throw in crypto promotion deals with F1, UFC and e-sports Team SoloMid, and we have an audience of at least 4 billion people — incredible reach and engagement earned due to the marketing prowess (and spending power) of two crypto companies.

Crypto & Sports video 18

A little more awareness and the metrics of crypto adoption will cease to be relevant, just as we do not measure the number of people who know what the “Internet” or a “Smartphone” is now.


The number of sponsorship deals in sports involving crypto companies increased by 1,100% in 2021 compared to 2019, while the automotive industry saw an 81% increase in sponsorships over the same period, and airlines generally reduced their participation by 28%.

Crypto & Sports video 19 took the lead with 17 deals that would require over $220 million to process annually. Europe is not far behind the United States: crypto companies have entered into 79 sponsorship agreements with football clubs from the Old World.

The expected global volume of crypto sponsorship investments by 2026 is projected to reach $5 billion compared to $0.57 billion last year. By comparison, investment in sponsorship deals by IT companies is projected to be more than 44% compared to 2021, while retail and the automotive sector are seen as industries not ready to significantly increase the volume of cash injections.

Crypto & Sports video 20

Why are sports so attractive to the crypto industry?

According to a Nielsen study, the share of those interested in buying cryptocurrency among sports fans is 47% higher than among the general population. Among esports fans, this figure is almost doubled.

The study also found that in American leagues, the proportion of NHL and NBA fans interested in buying cryptocurrency is 51% and 49% respectively, compared to  about 27% among the general population.

Crypto & Sports video 30

Such a high correlation makes the sports audience very attractive to crypto exchanges, who are ready to invest massive amounts to attract fans’ attention.


The proportion of sports fans interested in cryptocurrency also carries significant interest in NFTs. 44% of NHL fans, and a further 43% of NBA fans, are ready to purchase NFTs in the next six months, as opposed to 25% among the general population.

Crypto & Sports video 31

In addition to investing and trading cryptocurrencies, users also can try products at the intersection of sports and blockchain technologies. NBA Top Shot, for example, allows NBA fans to collect memorable moments featuring the league’s top players in the form of NFTs.

At its peak at the beginning of 2021, Top Shot’s capitalisation was over $2 billion. Its cumulative sales have exceeded $1 billion, with a current valuation of about half a billion dollars. The success of the Flow blockchain platform was bolstered by the strong Dapper Labs team behind creating CryptoKitties.

Crypto & Sports video 23

NFT platform Sorare is the football incarnation of the Dapper Labs product. They have already officially added about 250 teams to their platform. In addition to simply collecting cards, Sorare allows users to participate in games. To participate, a user needs to collect five player cards, and then points are awarded to users depending on the actual success of the players presented on the cards in real life. The platform’s cumulative all-time sales have exceeded $300 million.

Among the leaders in sales are Panini America and Topps MLB sports collections. Both companies are traditional trading card players who have decided to expand their NFT offering with collections. Combined sales for Panini America and Topps MLB brought in $35 million and $17 million respectively.

Fan tokens

In addition to sponsorship contracts, clubs can also raise funds by issuing fan tokens. Fan tokens don’t give fans the right to own part of the team or to earn profit but, rather, offer supporters access to vote on various decisions related to their team. For instance, fans can choose what music the team will play when taking to the field, or what colours should be used to repaint the team’s bus. Token holders can also access private club events or special merchandise.

Crypto & Sports video 25

Currently, the most popular fan token issuance platforms are Socios and Binance. Socios has already launched 50 fan tokens, most of which are football club tokens. 4 editions of fan tokens were released on Binance: 3 football clubs and an F1 team.

Crypto & Sports video 24

The total capitalisation of fan tokens is about $250 million at present, while at the start of the development, it was only $7 million. The sector’s peak capitalisation came on October 21, 2021 with a value of almost $600 million.

Crypto & Sports video 28

Among the fan tokens in circulation, the BMW Alpine F1 Team’s offering has the largest capitalisation, at $36.8 million. The top three football fan tokens by capitalisation at present are PSG, Manchester City and FC Barcelona. The Davis Cup, the UFC and the Portuguese national football team have also issued their own tokens. However, they are not as popular as professional club tokens. Relative to the initial price of FTO (Fan Token Offering), they have lost significant value.

Crypto & Sports video 27

Looking Ahead

The number of sponsorship deals in the NBA already exceeds the number of teams in the league, and the Italian Series A also has an average of one crypto sponsorship deal per club, followed by the Premier League and NHL in terms of the prevalence of crypto partnerships. Suggesting that cryptocurrency has finally separated itself from the perception of being something illegal and dangerous, and is now considered a volatile, but increasingly mainstream financial technology.

The next step for crypto adoption will likely be the establishment of cryptocurrencies as an integral part of the financial system. Similar to the movement of crypto company logos from the sleeves of T-shirts to the fronts, crypto assets will move from exchange accounts to accounts in banking and other financial applications. And Mercuryo will be here to lead the charge.


The cover photo was taken from the Twitter account. 

Original photo: 


More articles

#technology8 Sep

Powering the Growth: Overview of Polkadot’s Ecosystem

#technology5 Sep

Understanding Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS)

#technology1 Aug

The Merge Is Upon Us – ETH 2.0