Licensing: From First Step to First Edition

At Matchday, we have officially licensed cards for thousands of footballers from around the world. Each and every one represents an individual person with an individual journey.

Today we’ll take a look at one fascinating player journey from the first kick of a ball, all the way through to featuring on a Matchday card. We’ve also had a chat with Matchday’s licensing guru for some insight into the process of securing rights for footballers around the world.

This player’s story begins in the bustling streets of Lagos, Nigeria. Selling drinking water bags and searching for old boots in the Olusosun landfill. They faced personal tragedy early on, dealing with the death of their mother.

Behind the curtain

What does it take to secure the official licensing in order to feature a footballer on a Matchday card? "It all starts with identifying talent and potential icons,” says Josh aka Joshua Thomson, Matchday’s Head of Partnerships and IP. He explains that in the early stages it’s about researching players, understanding their market appeal, and anticipating their fit within the game's ethos. This helps narrow the focus to specific leagues or competitions which will resonate with Matchday’s audience.

Dropped by his team in Lagos. 10 gruelling hours on the road to Abuja for a chance to show his skills for the under-17 national trials. A fortuitous 15 minutes and 2 goals later, he had attracted the right attention.

Navigating the road to rights

Negotiating rights is the key factor holding any licensing deal together. This means engaging with player unions like FIFPro, which represents around 80,000 players worldwide. However, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. "Each player and league can present unique challenges," says Josh. It can be a bit of a maze, especially with leagues like MLS or the Men's Bundesliga, where different negotiation dynamics apply.

Young Victor burst onto the radars everywhere at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, scoring in every game. He secured the tournament’s Golden Boot with a total of 10 goals, leading Nigeria to a tournament win.

Onwards and outwards

"We've made concerted efforts to include women's leagues and we’d love to include grassroots leagues in the future." Thomson explains. This commitment has sometimes meant moving fast, especially for the Women's World Cup in 2023. There was a rush to secure licenses for female players not yet represented by FIFPro, meaning working directly with FIFA. It was worth it, as Matchday was able to produce cards of every single player at the tournament, a huge success.

Across continents to Wolfsburg, Germany. On to Belgium, France, and eventually Napoli, Italy. Victor Osimhen's name is now on the lips of clubs all over Europe. From Olusosun to the Serie A player of the year, Osimhen has the world at his feet.

The Future of Football

While football’s superstars are the key draw for the mainstream audience in Europe, football reaches all around the world. "We're exploring new territories, aiming to include players from underrepresented regions and levels," says Josh. As we shared in our previous look at Grassroots football, the attraction of supporting hyper local teams is strong. The future of Matchday is about bringing fans and players closer together.

Perhaps one day, we’ll have every player in the world as a Matchday card! (Note: Josh declined to comment on this last statement ;) ).

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