PARIS: French gaming startup Sorare, which offers users the chance to collect and trade virtual football stickers, said Tuesday it had raised a record $680 million (580 million euros) from investors, valuing the group at $4.3 billion. The amount of money raised in a single private fundraising round beat previous records and makes the three-year-old group the most valuable startup in France. “Our ambition is to be the first group focused on sports entertainment,” co-founder Nicolas Julia said. “This money will enable us to focus on our product before a possible IPO in the next few years,” he added. The Sorare game, which uses blockchain technology, enables users to buy and sell images of football players whose value fluctuates according to their performances on the pitch. The game is a mix of old-fashioned football sticker collecting, online football manager games, and stock market trading. It counts star professional players Gerard Pique, Rio Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and Cesar Azpilicueta as small shareholders, but its new investors are mostly specialised venture capital funds such as Atomico or Bessemer Ventures. Sorare was founded in 2018 in Paris and claims to have 250,000 active users.