Matchday, a new Web3 gaming startup focused on football, has raised $21 million USD in seed capital from various investors, including Play Time, the VC firm of football superstar Lionel Messi. Other contributors include Courtside Ventures, Greylock, HackVC, Capricorn Investment Group, and Horizons Ventures. Matchday has obtained official licenses from FIFA and FIFAPRO, football’s player union, which provides the startup access to over 65,000 professional global footballers, allowing the company to bring them into its various gaming offerings. The startup launched in 2022 with the release of limited edition FIFA World Cup player cards that participants could earn by challenging friends in-game. Matchday has a solid community base, having distributed over 2 million NFT player cards to roughly 600,000 users in 2022 through challenges and mini-games provided.

The startup is currently focused on its latest football management-style game, optimized for casual users and building for an untapped audience in the football community. True ownership over in-game assets is a priority for Matchday, with the Chief Gaming Officer Sebastien de Halleux stating that “our games will be accessible to all players and will focus on true ownership of digital items that all players will be proud of.” The investment from Messi is not his first time supporting Web3 companies. He is also an ambassador for on-chain fantasy football game Sorare and the token platform Socio, having invested with Sorare and signed a $20 million USD endorsement deal with Socio. Sorare has raised $680 million USD at a valuation of $4.3 billion USD in 2021 and now processes over $1 million USD in transactions daily, demonstrating that token-backed sports games can be a highly lucrative industry. With official sports organizations adopting blockchain technology, new opportunities will continue to emerge for owners, players, and fans, creating both financial benefits and a new reality of engagement with the sports world that was not previously possible.