As Lionel Messi tore through opposition defenses during the World Cup in Qatar, Argentine heart rates weren’t the only thing fluctuating. Every goal, yellow card, and penalty also led to spikes and dips in the price of the $ARG, the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) fan crypto token.
Created as the association’s official fan crypto token in June 2021, the value of the $ARG has rocketed from $2 to $6.42 since then. Over the course of the World Cup, the coin fluctuated in value based, apparently, on sentiment about the Argentine national team’s overall performance. With a market cap currently valued at over $24 million, coin holders not only risk losing to France in the World Cup final, but potentially some money as well.
The blockchain-powered token is available through Socios.com, a Spanish website that offers official fan tokens by other football squads including Manchester City, FC Barcelona, and Paris Saint-Germain. The $ARG was the first crypto coin created for a national team after a commercial agreement was signed between Socios.com and AFA last year. Aside from its potential investment value, ownership of a token allows fans to access decision making within a club, like voting for the team’s slogan. Those with at least 75 $ARG tokens (roughly $500 at the time of writing) are entered into a competition to win Messi’s jersey.
“I love Messi, so that’s a catalyst that drew me to $ARG,” David Kome, a crypto user from Nigeria, told Rest of World via Twitter. “In the course of the World Cup and as Argentina progressed from the group stage, I got interested in the token, did my research on it, and invested in it.”
The French team, which is facing Argentina in the final, also has a fan token. The $FRA, created this October, has climbed in value over the course of the World Cup from $0.0006 to $0.001. Unlike the $ARG, the $FRA is not endorsed by the French Football Federation, and CoinMarketCap, a price-tracking website for crypto assets, warned against purchasing it because of concerns about pump-and-dump schemes.
Investors and fans claim that what makes team coins like $ARG and $FRA different from other crypto investments is that the value of the tokens, and investor interest, correlate with sentiment about team performance. “It is a token, so it’s like buying Doge, Shiba, or any token in the low capitalization market,” Federico Goldberg, founder and CEO of TiendaCrypto, a crypto exchange that recently launched a token-driven sports betting function, told Rest of World. “The way it’s moving, [$ARG] seems to be tied to Argentina’s results.”
The actual correlation between the team’s performance and the value of its coin is more difficult to parse. The $ARG peaked at just under $9 on November 18, four days before Argentina played its debut match. When Argentina lost its first game to Saudi Arabia, the $ARG plummeted in value from roughly $7.20 at the start of the match to $4.96. After the team defeated Croatia on Tuesday, the $ARG hit a peak of 70% from the start of the match, reaching $5.5.
Manuel Londra, a crypto consultant and the founder of Invertirencripto, a crypto consultancy service, supports Argentina in the World Cup, but told Rest of World he is fundamentally an investor when it comes to the $ARG. Emotions play a huge role in crypto trading, Londra said, “but you’ve got to learn how to control them … You’ve got to be as cold and calculating as you can.”
The two crypto entrepreneurs that Rest of World spoke to agreed that the token’s future after the World Cup is unknown, regardless of how the team does in the Sunday final. “The big question is what will happen with the token a while after the World Cup is finished,” said Goldberg. “We’ll have to wait.”
Londra said that “whatever happens in the final match, [$ARG] will drop. It’s [current value of] $6.65, it’s too high. People buy rumors, they’re buying the novelty.”