Dinamo Zagreb NFT way to fans’ hearts


Mate Naletilić at Coliseum EUROPE Image: Mate Naletilić & Dinamo Zagreb

Mate Naletilić is a digital innovation specialist with four years of experience working alongside the executive team of the Croatian professional football club GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

Mate specializes in integrating digital innovations and is responsible for the socios.com project and other digital assets on the blockchain at Dinamo Zagreb, using his skills to contribute to the exciting technological advances that happen every day and building up new digital revenue streams for his club, including supervision of the distribution of digital assets, mass communication procedures and organizational steps.

GNK Dinamo Zagreb

Građanski nogometni klub Dinamo Zagreb, commonly referred to as GNK Dinamo Zagreb or simply Dinamo Zagreb, is a Croatian professional football club based in Zagreb, Croatia. Dinamo play their home matches at the Maksimir Stadium.

The 35,123-capacity Maksimir Stadium is a multiuse stadium in Zagreb, Croatia. It takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood of Maksimir. The venue is primarily the home of Dinamo Zagreb, the top club of the country with 22 league titles, but it is also the home venue of the Croatia national football team.

Dinamo Zagreb at a glance

  • Established in 1911;
  • Most successful and popular club in Croatia;
  • Fourteen players from Dinamo in the Croatia squad in the World Cup finals, which is a FIFA World Cup™ record;
  • One million followers on social media; and
  • Fan tokens, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and how clubs can open up new revenue streams.

In an exclusive exchange with ‘Coliseum’, Mate Naletilić, Digital Innovation Specialist, Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia, took pride in the fact that majority of the club players showed their prowess during the 2018 World Cup. He also talked at length on how the club garnered revenue during the COVID-19 storm with the help of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Fan Tokens and also succeeded in winning the hearts of the young supporters.

Exulted Mate Naletilić, “Fourteen players for the 2018 World Cup finals were from Dinamo Zagreb. So, our Academy is one of the best in Europe.”

Pandemic punch

The COVID-19 outbreak globally caused much hindrance to the steady flow of revenue for the club in the last two years as is the case with all entities. Dinamo Zagreb decided to “Find new revenue streams which we can use to make the fiscal situation more stable”.

New digital revenue streams

  • Pandemic measures;
  • One-way communication with fans;
  • No income from ticket sales;
  • Fan engagement;
  • Diversification of revenues; and
  • Attention of younger audience.


COVID challenges

COVID-19 led to the world shutting down and it bled white most entities. The sports venue sector was no exception as Naletilić pointed out, “With no fans in the stands, we did not get any feedback from them. It was kind of one-way communication. We also suffered fiscal bruises as there was no gate revenue. Fan engagement was nil as we had no content to provide. With the stadium sans fans, it obviously led to lack of creative content.”

Diversification of revenues

Against the above backdrop, Naletilić and his team decided to go for diversification of revenues to avoid a belly-up situation and keep the financial wheels of the club well-oiled.

Grabbing eyeballs

Naletilić added that Gen Z and millennial do not have the patience to “Sit through 90 minutes of a football game and they want everything to finish in 10 seconds”. The young crop of today has a more ‘Maggi Noodles kind of concept’ where everything should finish in two minutes and they also have very short attention span. The team at Dinamo Zagreb decided to change this mindset of Generation Z by introducing new concepts.

Fan Tokens

Fan Tokens are digital assets created in a blockchain which rewards its owner with access to a service that sports organizations offer their fans through an intermediary app.

With the COVID-19 onslaught sporting organizations were at the end of their wits wondering what to do when there was not a single fan in the stadium. Dinamo Zagreb also landed up in the same situation and then they decided to go in for Fan Tokens which monetize the passion of their supporters.

Naletilić described Fan Tokens as “A democratic way to involve and include all supporters of the club. We hosted an event on the pitch with legends and fans. We started a poll to ‘Name A Training Pitch After A Legend’. Supporters can vote for it and the name of the legend is also the name of the training pitch. It was also a novel way to keep the young brigade of fans engaged.”

Two-way communication

The COVID curse also led to communication becoming a one-way traffic with no response from fans as stadia went empty all over the world.

He informed, “For communication to become a two-way traffic, we organized non-binding polls and asked things like what you want to change at the club. For that we partnered up with Socios and Sorare which are two French companies. The most important development was that all team members of Dinamo Zagreb were asked to take the digital path and today we have 20,000 fan token orders.”

Socios Fan Tokens

The Socios Fan Tokens is taking the sporting world by storm and the pandemic has aided to that. It allows fans to hold membership to some of their favorite sports teams and clubs that allow them access to exclusive perks, events and even have a say in team decisions, all bundled up in an easy-to-use app. That dream is now a reality with Socios Fan Tokens!

Advantage Fan Tokens

  • Fan Tokens give supporters access and unlock special perks to their favorite sports teams; and
  • Unlike traditional memberships, Fan Tokens never expire and are yours to keep forever.


Sorare Token

The Sorare Token allows sports fans and crypto collectibles enthusiasts to safely collect, trade and showcase their favorite digital football memorabilia. Each Sorare token is available to purchase through the Sorare NFT platform and Opensea.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a financial security consisting of digital data stored in a blockchain, a form of distributed ledger. The ownership of an NFT is recorded in the blockchain, and can be transferred by the owner, allowing NFTs to be sold and traded.

NFTs have created a fresh avenue for sports leagues to connect with fans and turn everything from ticket sales to pictures of sneakers to video clips into collectibles.

Advantage NFTs

  • Revolutionizing fan engagement;
  • More meaningful fan-club interactions;
  • Fans can trade safely;
  • Help players redefine their relationships with their fans; and
  • Will bring the stands closer to the pitch in the near future.

To take fan engagement to the next level and grab the attention of the young fans, Dinamo Zagreb launched NFTs in 2021 as Naletilić elaborated, “To better interact with fans, we launched NFTs. It is something which I use as a football card and to better grab the attention of young supporters, we went in for fantasy football.”

Fantasy football

He explained, “In fantasy football, you have to watch your player how he is performing on the pitch and when you are watching your player, you are watching the game. It is not 10 seconds but one has to watch the whole game to see if your player is delivering the goods on the pitch. So, Dinamo launched a football card of few players and they are changing the price of the football card and everything changes as per the pitch performance. As a result, we engage in more robust interaction with our fans and half the day they watch the game and buy food and beverages.”

Steady revenue flow

  • Higher inclusion of club members;
  • Fan activation;
    • Fan match on the main pitch; and
    • 150m2 mural on the West Stand.


Turn nose up

He informed that though more club members were included as part of the Fan Tokens launch but “It also came as a challenge because several club members were not open to the idea of Fan Tokens. Their viewpoint was ‘We have paid 20 years for club membership and then I have to pay again for Fan Tokens to make my voice heard or to get the vote.’

Free Token bait

Dinamo Zagreb came up with a solution – “We organized an exhibition and we said every club member gets one Fan Token for free and we repeated it with all the Dinamo Zagreb seasons and the Members were allowed to play a football match at the main pitch of the Maksimir Stadium with referees and players in tow. We also had ‘Pick The New Captain’s Armband Design’. Every voter can choose one armbands which are kept in the football pitch. The number is the team shirt of Dinamo Zagreb for the next year. Through these initiatives we got a lot of positive feedback.”

Ideas for the future

  • Tokenization of the stadium as an asset on blockchain, crowdfunded by the fans and investors.

Naletilić stated, “What we are thinking about for the future of Dinamo Zagreb is tokenization of the stadium as an asset. We are thinking about a financial instrument called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) put in the blockchain so that the stadium could be crowdfunded from investors’ perspective. A fan gets a seat in the West Stand and he gets access to content which fans in general do not get. So, it will be very interesting.”

New venue

He summed up by stating, “The Maksimir Stadium is aging (opened on May 5th, 1912) and it has been renovated more than 30 times till date. Our future aim is to build a spiffy venue for the top-flight Dinamo Zagreb.” Indeed, such a decorated club with World Cup feats deserves nothing but the best!

In April 2021, the top-notch Croatian professional football club unfolded plans for a chic 34,000-person stadium that would sit in the same area as its historic digs – Maksimir Stadium.

Mate Naletilić and his team have done a lot of brainstorming to find ways to keep the young supporters of the club engaged in more novel ways and they are reaping the rewards of it.

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