Driving fan engagement and revenue through NFT’s

Interview with Manu Leroy, Marketing and Communications director at the RBFA

In June 2021, the RBFA officially announced that it had granted licences to allow the Red Devils to join the world of fantasy football with NFT digital cards on Sorare, thereby making Belgium the first country where both the national football association and the league are available on Sorare. ESSMA spoke with Manu Leroy, Director of Marketing & Communication at the RBFA, to find out what inspired them to join the NFT trend and how they see digital fan engagement evolving in the future.


Over the past year, the use of NFT’s has increased enormously. While the COVID-pandemic made it difficult to interact with fans, organisations had to find new ways to drive fan engagement and create additional revenue streams.

With people confined to their homes, football fans (like many other people) looked for digital alternatives of social engagement. One of the places where they found this was in NFT’s (non-fungible tokens).

What are NFT’s? 

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. Types of NFT data units may be associated with digital files such as photos, videos, and audio. Because each token is uniquely identifiable, NFTs differ from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.


NFT’s in the sports world can take many different forms: NBA Top Shot has short clips of some of the best moments in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors have sold digital replicas of their Championship Rings, Stredium sold a digital version of Alex Dowsett’s World Hour Record bike and Sorare offers a platform where you can collect and trade unique digital player cards.

On the Sorare platform you can build your own team to earn points and prices based on your players’ real-life performance. The cards are unique and the value of them can go up or down based on the player’s popularity and performance as well as the card’s rarity.

© Sorare

RBFA joins the NFT world

In June 2021, with the EURO 2020 tournament just about to start, the RBFA announced that they would be joining the world of NFT’s through Sorare. After having talked with several players in the market, they deemed Sorare to be the most professional and advanced. The RBFA granted Sorare the licence to use their players’ images in return for a licensing fee. Belgium’s best players have been available as digital collectibles on the platform ever since.

Besides the fact that the RBFA received a certain licensing fee, they also saw this as a huge opportunity to engage with fans in a new and innovative way through an online alternative while fans were confined to their homes. As an innovative federation, the RBFA embraced this new technology and has built up a successful partnership.

The federation will continue to look for new and exciting opportunities in the market that can help offer fans a better experience but will always thoroughly vet any potential new products and partners to protect themselves, and above all, their fans. They are continuously monitoring the market for new opportunities that they will only elect to integrate once their potential has been trialled and proven.

Future integrations of blockchain technology

“We have been looking at several new possibilities on the market. There’s the possibility of fan tokens for example. We looked at it, but ultimately decided not to do it due to our own ethical perspective. 

To buy fan tokens, fans must first buy crypto coins, which are known for volatility, and we don’t want our fans to lose money over something our name has been attached to.

But we could see other uses of blockchain technology being integrated in the future. Blockchain ticketing or digital sports memorabilia for example. 

But whatever we would do in the future we always want it to be sustainable and add value for our fans.”

Manu Leroy, Marketing and Communications director - RBFA