A Web3 football (soccer) startup, Matchday, has raised a staggering $21 million in a seed funding round which saw investment from Lionel Messi’s venture capital firm.
If you’re a regular listener to the Mint One podcast, you will know that I have one example of blockchain’s clear synergy with current gaming: FIFA. Well, I have several examples, but few are more mechanically plug-and-play than FIFA Ultimate Teams with its player packs. Web3 has already gelled with pack openings quickly — a phenomenon that has been an unlikely success in the digital world, perhaps equalling physical pack openings. So, it isn’t remotely difficult to imagine how effective it might be to make the contents of arguably the most popular digital packs on the planet, NFTs.
Opening football sticker packs was a staple of my childhood — like it was for many other football fans — and it has transferred across beautifully to FIFA. Many Web3 companies have not missed that trend and there is something of a race to capitalize on it while the giants move slowly. We have Sorare pushing forward with their Web3 fantasy league project with success, finally closing a big-ticket partnership with the Premier League in February this year. Sorare isn’t alone either, with company from Soccerverse, for example, which is a football management MMO built on Polygon.
What Is Matchday?
Matchday is looking to build Web3, football-based games where the players are NFTs. The entire ecosystem is built on the Solana network and the developers have partnered with Magic Eden for exclusive mints of their NFTs. The partnerships do not stop there, however: Matchday is officially partnered with FIFA and FIFPRO — quite the USP.
You truly own your squad. No one is taking it away from you every year. Instead, you keep strengthening it by trading and leveling up your players. Now imagine taking your squad into different games. It could be a 2 min casual match on your phone, or a sim on your console.
The above quote is clearly (and fairly) a swipe at the yearly FIFA games which wipe ultimate teams every time the players move to the next version. As for whether Matchday will be competing directly with the FIFA games, it seems unlikely. Collecting and trading players is the heart of the Matchday ecosystem, though this year, the team plans to launch a mobile-based casual management sim that uses the squad you have built.
Lionel Messi’s involvement in the $21 million seed round is a big coup for Matchday, but not wholly unexpected. Messi has been involved in the aforementioned Sorare, as well as several other NFT and Web3-based projects pertaining in one way or another to football.
As a lifelong football fan (I’m tired while writing this because of my return journey from a Champions League fixture just last night!) and an advocate for blockchain’s value to gaming since the idea was foetal, I’m feverish at Matchday’s trajectory. What warms me further still is that Matchday, Sorare, and Soccerverse may all be similar in intention — that is, NFT players for true ownership — but they aren’t in direct competition with one another. Football may not be coming home any time soon, but it’s on the move.