Ajax Soccer Stars Blind, Klaassen Accused of Insider Trading in Sorare NFTs

Posted on: April 27, 2022, 12:47h. 

Last updated on: April 27, 2022, 02:19h.

Dutch soccer stars Daley Blind and Davy Klaassen are suspected of insider trading on NFT fantasy soccer platform Sorare, BNR reports.

Daley Blind, Davy Klaassen
Davy Klaassen (left) and Daley Blind of Ajax and the Netherlands national team may have embraced the NFT craze a little too enthusiastically. (Image: AD.nl)

Fingers were prodded at Blind and Klassen ahead of the Dutch Cup Final (KNVB Cup), which played out between their team, Ajax, and PSV Eindhoven on Sunday, April 17.

Sorare allows players to collect digital soccer trading cards, which they can use to compile a “team” of players. Each card can earn points based on real-world performances, just like a regular fantasy sports site.

Before the cup final, according to Twitter observers, Blind sold his André Onana NFT card and bought Maarten Stekelenburg. Klaassen also bought Stekelenburg. Onana is Ajax’s first-choice goalkeeper, who was unexpectedly benched for the final in favor of backup keeper Stekelenburg.

It didn’t help. PSV won the game 2-1.

NFTs Confound Regulators

According to BNR, Dutch regulators are looking into the matter, but even if Blind and Klaassen are guilty of some shady NFT trading, they are likely to escape punishment.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique, permanent digital tokens that can represent ownership of an underlying virtual item, such Sorare’s sports trading cards and other digital content, or even a tangible asset like a painting or sculpture.

Dutch soccer’s governing body, KNVB, prohibits players from betting on games they participate in. But NFTs are so new that they confound regulators. There’s nothing in the language of the KNVB’s disciplinary regulations that prohibits their trading between soccer players, with or without insider knowledge.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether Sorare can be classified as gambling. That’s one for Dutch gaming regulators to figure out. The UK Gambling Commission is also grappling with the question.

Sorare told Casino.org in February it had received “extensive legal advice from several leading law firms” and “strongly believes” its services or promotions to users “are not gambling in the UK or in any other jurisdiction in which we operate.”

Since its games are free to play (although users must pay to acquire NFTs), and winners are paid in non-cash prizes, it may have a point.

Foul Play

But it’s also in Sorare’s interests to ensure its contests are fair and transparent and that the rules are not abused by wealthy superstar soccer players.

Sorare recently signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with the Eredivisie, the top tier of Dutch soccer. Its footballers have enthusiastically embraced Sorare’s NFTs and have tens of thousands of dollars worth in their possession, according to BNR.

“We are reviewing recent reports of unfair behavior by professional football players and will take action as necessary to ensure fair play for our community,” Sorare said in a statement. “We do not condone any unfair behavior by any of our users and are actively adapting our game rules to ensure that our fantasy game is a level playing field for all.”