Over recent years, there have been a slew of announcements by football clubs and cryptocurrency companies hailing their collaborative deals and engagements. Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are just some of the colossal names in the world of football who have put pen to paper on crypto deals in the last couple of years.
While the parties involved welcome the deals as methods of encouraging fan engagement and enhancing transparency in business dealings, there are those who believe that this is just more one more symptom of clubs exploiting their fanbase, a large percentage of whom will have little to no understanding of cryptocurrency workings (if that sounds like you, brush up on your crypto learning at this website now). So who is right? Let’s take a look at some of the ways crypto can benefit football – and vice versa – when approached appropriately.
Fostering fan relationships
Certain clubs have already signalled their intention to embrace cryptocurrencies whole-heartedly by launching their very own coins, often termed as ‘fan tokens’. These tokens allow the bearers to participate in club matters, such as voting on policies and decisions, without actually owning any shares, while they’re also a means of entering competitions and winning prizes. In this sense, they’re an excellent means of strengthening the bonds between club and fanbase – but if the bottom falls out of a particular fan token’s value, it could lead to bad blood between the bearer and the club which endorsed it.
As far back as January 2018, Turkish club Harunustaspor became the first in the world to use bitcoin to buy a player. The sums involved were extremely small – the player in question received the princely sum of £385 in bitcoin (plus a further £470 in Turkish lira) – but the precedent it set shows that cryptocurrency can be used to conduct player transfers. What’s more, the transparency and immutability of the blockchain ledger technology underpinning most cryptocurrencies could actually be preferable to that involved in fiat currency transactions, helping to stamp corruption out of football one deal and one contract at a time.
In the 2021/22 season, 17 out of the 20 clubs in the English Premier League had signed a deal creating an official cryptocurrency partner. As well as the aforementioned advantages of selling fan tokens and implementing blockchain into all business dealings, these partnerships can also yield lucrative sponsorship benefits for both parties. On the one hand, the cryptocurrency company gets access to millions of viewers on a weekly basis, allowing it to break markets to which it would normally have no recourse. On the other, clubs can access another source of revenue, which could help them to improve their performance both on and off the field.
For an example of what can go wrong when ticketing administration is not properly handled, one only need look at the most recent Champions League final in Paris, France. Tens of thousands of supporters from Liverpool and Real Madrid descended on the French capital, only to find their way into the Stade de France barred by police who accused them on holding counterfeit tickets and tear gassing many. If the administration of the ticketing for the event had been handled on the same blockchain technology which cryptocurrencies use, those issues could have been quite easily sidestepped. As such, the showpiece was a timely reminder of what technology could do for the sport in the near future.
Although it may have its critics within the sport, cryptocurrency has been making inroads into the footballing world for many years now – and glancing at the above advantages that it could bring, it’s not difficult to see why.