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For 26 years, Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli has been the shirt sponsor of Serie A club Inter Milan. That deal ended last year when Pirelli was replaced by crypto fan token company Socios, which paid $16 million to have “$Inter Fan Token” on the front of the team’s jersey while that “by Socios.com” appeared in smaller type under the fan token brand.
Social manufactures crypto fan tokens for other major European football teams such as Juventus, AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City and Arsenal. The company also makes inroads into major US leagues through fan loyalty and rewards sponsorships with teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS. All of these leagues except the NFL are increasingly adopting jersey patch sponsorships. While the Socios brand can already be found in top US venues such as Madison Square Garden, Crypto.com Arena and SoFi Stadium, CEO Alex Dreyfus is adamant that jersey sponsorships won’t be part of the deal. US expansion of the fan token company.
“Absolutely not,” Dreyfus told SportTechie. “We don’t see the point in us sponsoring shirts because when you do that, you do it for brand recognition. We don’t care about brand recognition. We want people to buy the token of the team they are supporting.
Dreyfus instead plans for Socios to buy luxury ticket boxes at American sports stadiums, like the box the company once purchased at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The company’s long term goal is for US fans to watch games from these boxes as a benefit to being a fan token holder of this team.
“We will pay for VIP boxes, here with the Nets we have a box [at Barclays Center], he said. “With the token that we will build one day, we will give [fan token holders] access to these VIP boxes, and we will have more than 30 all over the world. But it is not about spending money on a jersey, because it will not bring users. It’s four years of experience, and I can truly attest to that. It’s not going to attract users.
Socios was Inter Milan Shirt Sponsor for a single season. The top-tier Italian club have instead agreed a shirt patch deal with cryptocurrency brand DigitalBits for the 2022-23 season. However, Inter Milan did not receive payments from DigitalBits and claims the company owes them $17 million. Former football star and owner of Inter Miami David Beckham joined DigitalBits as a brand ambassador in March to promote NFTs for the company’s “metaverse”.
“DigitalBits has nothing to do with ‘fan tokens.’ It’s an empty shell that signed deals they weren’t able to afford with a ZERO product,” Dreyfus recently wrote on his LinkedIn.