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This sports project is bringing smaller athletes closer to their fans

Sports collectibles are seeing significant growth in the nonfungible tokens (NFTs) space. Thanks to nonfungible technology, the crypto industry is experiencing a new way for fans and athletes to interact. However, most of these interactions are based on the world’s most popular sports and athletes, leaving the lesser-known stars by the wayside.

By catering to the most popular sports, crypto platforms such as NBA Top Shot only serve to make the rich, well, richer. Ethereum-based NFT platform EX Sports is hoping to cater to the other side of the market — the smaller, lesser-known side.

Democratizing sports collectibles

At its core, EX Sports is a platform for users to buy, sell and trade athlete-issued nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Users are incentivized to earn various athlete-related cards and hold them in an album, showing off their rarest ones.

However, unlike physical card trading, EX Sports offers users benefits and utility. Those holding cards earn revenue as a reward and are provided the opportunity to help early athletes with their sporting careers.

Upon signing up for EX Sports, athletes of any kind can create and issue their own collectibles for users to buy, sell and trade. In doing so, athletes create another revenue source to support their efforts.

Sports federations can get in on the fun, too. By joining the EX Sports platform, federations can create sets of NFTs on behalf of their athletes.

Honoring a legend

As an example of EX Sports’ utility, the platform has partnered with the late Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona’s estate to offer 10 exclusive memorabilia NFTs based on his legacy, which are connected to physical real-world items. Four of those NFTs, the ‘Platinum Editions,’ were auctioned off at the DMCC Crypto Center, Dubai, with the winners receiving the actual physical items as well. The remaining six ‘Gold NFTs’ were launched and could be bought on the Ex Sports marketplace in multiple variations.  Each item is certified as official by World Soccer Treasures – one of the world’s largest collectors of football memorabilia, and the name and usage rights of the Maradona brand have been legally authorized by Maradona’s former manager and close friend, Stefano Ceci.  

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Additionally, artist Hans Ulrich Pauly, who works with 4ARTechnologies, has created a painting to honor Maradona’s life. This painting will be tokenized and fractionalized into 1,960 digital assets, which will have their own auctions. 1,960 is to honor the year 1960, Maradona’s birth year. EX Sports’ goal is to show users how NFTs are issued and inspire athletes to create their own collections. It is also taking this opportunity to tell the story of Maradona’s life in a unique way.

“There’s a story behind every memorabilia item and detail around the exhibition and auction,” said Toli Makris, CEO of EX Sports. “The ten exclusive items represent Maradona’s player number, and the fractional ownership of the painting’s 1,960 pieces signifies the year 1960, the year Maradona was born.”

The future of EX Sports

While EX Sports has previously partnered with athletes like Sean Garnier to create the first freestyle football NFTs, the project has plans to bring in more athletes from niche sports in the future. 

EX Sports has recently launched their full NFT marketplace for smaller athletes to gain exposure from their collections and build a closer relationship with their fans. All the NFTs, including Diego Maradona’s, are already available for purchase. The marketplace will launch alongside additional features to bring NFTs to a wider audience than ever before.