I am looking into creating a fantasy soccer league, where users can create their own virtual team of real-life soccer players. The performance the virtual team depends on how those soccer players perform in real life.
There are data providers (eg: http://www.xmlteam.com, https://fantasydata.com) targeted at fantasy leagues, their licenses are for using their data, which includes those real names, but it's obviously not the license one would need for using real names in a game. There are some articles online that state that fantasy leagues do not need licensing for showing real names and data, because it's considered the same as showing public information, similar to how the news or papers would report about sports games. Some fantasy leagues have been in court over this and succesfully defended themselves, thus not needing a license. I also contacted 2 of the biggest fantasy soccer leagues in my country, if they could inform me about how and where to obtain such a license. One didn't respond (yet), the other one replied that they have someone present at every soccer game to gather the data, so that they don't need a license to get this data from someone else - they weren't aware of other licenses regarding the usage of real names.
I also contacted the organizer of the professional soccer competition (Pro League) in my country (Belgium), on their website they advertise their licensing deal with EA, but they haven't replied (yet).
I am aware that this should be discussed with a lawyer, but for me it's more about having a reusable fantasy sports game (without the actual sports data) than having a lot of users in a functional game. In other words, if it would be OK to develop and test this game in a closed environment (on the internet, without public registration, let's call it "friends-only"), that would be sufficient for me for now.
Does this type of game need a license? At what point does or doesn't it need a license? Can I test my game online with 16 participants (registrations closed, so not open to the public) without needing a license (yet)?