Davies headlines star-studded launch of NFT Sports

NEW YORK (AP) — Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies headlined a lineup of top FIFA and UEFA stars as the public launch of the NFT Sports media platform drew two dozen soccer stars and a crowd of more than 1,000.

The 12-year-old Canadian midfielder, who became the youngest player in the history of the World Cup, appeared with Michael Ballack, Roger Federer, Oscar, Kaka, Gerd Mueller, Galatasaray soccer star Hakan Calhanoglu, and three American players on Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.

For NFT, whose first product will be a Wider Group Content studio, the roster of A-listers is a first step in establishing the company as the global leader in sports video content creation.

Talks for the launch in Brooklyn on Tuesday began more than a year ago, said Chris Emma, head of NFT Sports.

“This event offers a rare opportunity to introduce ourselves to the world and raise awareness of the new NFT Sports platform,” Emma said. “In 2018, we are incredibly optimistic about the sustainability of our business.”

Nick Higgins, general manager of soccer at Big Ten Network, told the crowd the company is committed to developing football and soccer content beyond the professional level.

“We are building the next generation of soccer content makers and award-winning professional journalists,” he said.

As NFT Sports prepares to launch globally, it has a strong domestic foundation. Davies is part of Bayern’s youth academy and has already scored eight goals in 11 games for the Germany-based squad. At just 5-foot-6, he is the smallest player in the Bundesliga, yet played 81 minutes at this summer’s World Cup.

“His character, his skill sets, his mindset and this amazing, incredible dream that he has as a young athlete at such a young age, it’s a great example,” Emma said. “What he’s doing already, he’s breaking records, he’s breaking hearts and he’s breaking long-held perceptions about certain types of players. He’s an inspiration.

“What we know about Alphonso Davies, he has a passion for the game, he loves it, he wants to become a professional soccer player and he’ll do whatever it takes.”

Davies believes he can excel at the highest level.

“To play in the Premier League, in any league, is not in my sights at the moment,” he said. “But to do well here, to do well anywhere, I just want to keep playing and better each year.”

The company already works with a number of MLS teams in Canada, the United States and Europe. For the launch in Brooklyn, NFT Sports is partnering with MediaVillage, an online company which offers digital content management, editorial and brand integration expertise and a soccer vertical news site.

“‘How do you build a video studio for $8,000?’ The response we got from some people at MediaVillage was phenomenal,” Emma said. “The interest in this was really fast and really strong and really exciting.”

Chaired by Pamela Patton, founder of Patton Strategy Group, NFT Sports’ advisory board includes former Manchester United chief executive David Gill, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, former UEFA President Michel Platini, Champions League general director Andrea Traverso, and Gold Medal winning Olympic volleyball player Maykel Galindo.

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