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Digital future of football

News / Blog / Blog Posts / March 2022 / Digital future of football
09 March. 2022
Dr Olga Shvarova, Chief Innovation Officer
FC Barcelona is the first elite football club to enter the metaverse realm. Barca’s president, Joan Lapota, announced that Barcelona will be making their own metaverse with own cryptocurrency and launching own chain of NFTs. There is a hope that such a move will bring in younger audiences who are more used to new forms of digital entertainment. Can they really make something out of this technology?
 
The plans to issue NFTs spring from a hope that NFT income stream will help the club to recover from its recent financial difficulties. According to Deloitte Global, NFT for sports media will generate more than US$2B in transactions this year, with 50% year-on-year growth. This could mean that by the end of the year, at least four million sports fans globally will own an NFT-based sports collectable. Professional US sports, where collectable cards are highly priced, such as basketball and baseball, already embraced NFTs and this move to the digital has proved very popular in the market. 
 
While NFTs, with their collectable aspect and secondary market potential seem to be a natural development, Barca coin is a bit of a mystery. To be successful, a fungible token needs to have a real-life use. Launching a coin without a clear plan carries significant risks, and is unlikely to be a success. Barca metaverse is even less developed, though it has been revealed that it is expected to support FC Barcelona’s competitive video gaming teams and its online video offering.
 
It is still out for a debate whether and how metaverses can be monetised. Sport as an industry, and football in particular, will be particularly tricky as their consumers are still in the early educational phase with regards to the new digital wave. I can imagine that if an immersive 360-degree game broadcast can be created and the next generation of fans can take part in a virtual stadium tour or have a connected online experience, the industry will leap-frog to an all-inclusive digital format, and the fans will follow. But a metaverse of a club is much more niche and much less interesting, both from technological and from consumer perspectives.
 
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