In November, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) made a bold move as it became the first global sports association to step into the space.
An Introduction to ChessNFT
In an official announcement, the FIDE confirmed the launch of its dedicated NFT marketplace. The platform, called ChessNFT, eventually came to life at the end of November and is now fully functional.
By launching its NFT marketplace, the FIDE is looking to generate some buzz among many of its members who might also be interested in these assets and the potential that they have. The association partnered with TON Labs, the core developer of the renowned FreeTON Network, to build the marketplace and launch it.
In part, the press release explained that the FIDE is looking to get things up and running ahead of the World Chess Championship 2021, which should take place between November 24 and December 16 at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
By moving into the NFT space, the FIDE explained that it hoped to “welcome a new crypto demographic” by offering a way of gamifying “iconic match moments, unique collectibles, chess-related art” and more. The NFTs available on ChessNFT will use a new variation of NFT technology called TrueNFTs. These tokens store the actual media files on a blockchain, instead of just offering a way of accessing content that is stored and hosted elsewhere.
ChessNFT will allow people to purchase tokens through fiat currency and digital assets. This is a huge deal that could pave the way for broader crypto adoption in the coming months.
Sports Warming Up to Crypto
Chess has been making some impressive inroads towards the crypto industry. Besides FIDE, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world chess champion, made headlines in October after he received an NFT version of a trophy he won.
Carlsen had won the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour (MCCT), and the tournament went on to mint several NFT trophies and collectibles as a means of keeping some of the most iconic moments in the game. Carlsen walked away with one of the NFTs, expressing his excitement with news sources. As the champion explained, the crypto ecosystem has supported virtual chess tournaments a great deal.
“NFTs help the chess community celebrate great moments and possibly also reward those that have already invested so much time in growing the game. With Chess Champs, this is just getting started and I look forward to seeing it evolve,”
Two identical versions of the trophy had actually been minted on the Ethereum blockchain, with Carlsen signing them digitally after he won the tourney. The second trophy NFT was sold off for 6.88 ETH – about $25,000 at the time.
There is no doubt that chess and NFTs could do a lot for each other. At the very least, NFTs can indeed offer an opportunity for chess organizations and players to reach more fans.
Sports Crypto Adoption
Interestingly, chess appears to be moving slowly when it comes to sports and crypto adoption. Other sports – including teams, leagues, and players – have been much quicker when adopting crypto as many of them see this fledgling industry as the way forward as far as finance goes.
Weeks ago, Crypto.com – one of the top exchanges in the world – made a shocking announcement that it had purchased the naming rights for the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Following the rumored $700 million deal, the iconic location will be renamed the “Crypto.com Arena” from December 25th.
Staples Center is the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. The location draws hundreds of thousands of visitors daily, and it will now be a crypto monument.
Besides the renaming, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL has also confirmed that he will receive his first salary in Bitcoin. The wide receiver is expected to earn about $4.25 million this season, and he now joins a host of players who have opted to get their salary in Bitcoin instead of traditional cash.
It’s Not All Perfect
Of course, it is worth noting that not every sports deal has been successful. In the past few weeks, FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC – two of the biggest and most valuable sports brands in the world – have cancelled their sponsorship deals with crypto companies. FC Barcelona cancelled a deal with Ownix – an NFT marketplace – after both partners had partnered to launch collectibles and other materials to engage with the fans.
Moshe Hogeg, one of Ownx’s principal consultants, was recently arrested and charged with multiple crimes – including fraud and assault. Ownix has been quick to deny any ties to Hogeg, but the deed is done and the Barcelona deal is gone.
On the other hand, Manchester City terminated its deal with 3Key – a crypto firm with questionable origins. After sources pointed out that 3Key’s business model wasn’t clear, the owners of Manchester City decided to put a hold on the deal. While they claim to be evaluating the situation, it is extremely unlikely that anything gets done to remedy it.