Earlier this week, UEFA agreed a licensing and sponsorship deal with Socios, a company that produces so-called ‘fan tokens’ for fifty-three football clubs across the globe.
These tokens must be bought using Socios’ Chilliz cryptocurrency, which can be traded on cryptocurrency markets. People who own fan tokens can vote on various, often trivial, matters and enter competitions. As part of the deal, Socios will produce “add-on fan tokens” with UEFA branding, which will be given to customers who already hold club tokens.
According to Paul McInnes of The Guardian:
“The link between fan tokens and speculative trading has been part of the [Socios] offering since its launch in 2019. Some tokens have seen substantial falls in value, with the Arsenal token losing 60 percent since its launch in November last year.”
Commenting on the agreement between UEFA and Socios, FSE stated:
“We are appalled by UEFA’s decision to team up with Socios, a company that monetises fan engagement at the expense of match-going fans. This is an incomprehensible move at a time when football requires protection from crypto-mercenaries.”
“UEFA’s entry into the unregulated fan token market threatens the basic principles of fan engagement in Europe. It is a clear attempt to monetise football’s responsibility to properly engage with representative fans’ groups and their concerns.
“Since Socios began monetising fan engagement through fan tokens, they have met with strong opposition from fans’ groups. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also ruled that Arsenal’s advertising of fan tokens was ‘irresponsible’ and ‘misleading’ because it ‘failed to illustrate the investment risk’.
“UEFA’s partnership with Socios legitimises risky investments in volatile and largely unregulated financial assets. Indeed, the vast majority of Socios investors who hold fan tokens are crypto-speculators, not football fans.
“Governing bodies have a duty to safeguard the integrity and sustainability of the game and everybody associated with it. There are countless ways to properly engage with fans. Encouraging fans to invest in fan tokens is not one of them. They only serve the interests of those selling them.”