The phenomenon of increased digitalisation has been felt across various industries over the past year, and the sports sector, in particular, is becoming increasingly engaged with the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.
As sports betting and gaming appears to be moving out, in the UK at least, crypto and blockchain are moving in, perhaps best demonstrated by the increasing use of Non-Fungible Tokens by football clubs – as well as other athletes such as boxers – as a means to engage with fans and drive new sources of revenue.
Speaking to InsiderSport, Pet Berisha, the Head of Cryptomedia at football media outlet COPA90, discussed the rise of tokenization and how football and football-affiliated groups such as media outlets can successfully leverage blockchain.
Touching on his role as COPA90’s Head of Cyrptomedia, Berisha began: “There’s also sporting of football-specific NFT projects that are going to be big in the future that we hope to also be immersed in, in that kind of space.
“We hope that COPA90 can be a centrifugal point for what is going to be a very different future digital word that is going to encompass football, and the vehicle that’s being used to do that, and go in that direction is cryptocurrency, or blockchain technology.
“This does not mean, however, that the sports business world can expect outlets such as COPA90 to begin extensive crypto-based operations – such as creating Bitcoin content or starting Ethereum funds.
“How can we leverage tokenization and how can we leverage blockchain technology to better the world of football content and fan engagement in the future?” Berisha continued.
“We don’t really know what that world looks like. The canvas is quite bare at the moment, but that’s exciting as well because, as someone said to me recently, it would be great to be there when the pyramids were built.”
One of the most significant impacts of blockchain and crypto technology on the world of sports in general, but particularly with regards to football, is the aforementioned trend of tokenization referred to by Berisha
This has created a new way for fans to engage with clubs in a number of ways, whilst also offering a new form of digitised collectable merchandise. Interest in the space from the football sector has been keen, with firms such as Sorare and Socios.com inking multiple agreements with federations, leagues and teams.
Discussing this, Berisha continued: “Tickets are being given as actual NFTs, imagine if you had the Liverpool Champions League 2005 ticket stub, that is probably worth a lot of money for someone.
“In 100 years, let’s say you were there for the day that Leicester won the Premier League title, if that was a digital ticket that was immortalised on a blockchain that you have forever, that could be worth a lot of money for someone else as well.”
Another impact the blockchain and crypto space can have on football and sports in general, Berisha continued, is not just through enhanced fan engagement but also through developments in hospitality and ticketing.
“There’s going to be a lot of loyalty features. I wouldn’t be surprised if in two or three years time from a club card and loyalty card perspective NFTs disrupt that, and how is that going to look from a footballing perspective?
“There are a few interesting models around ticketing, for example there are a lot of ethereum based projects – this isn’t NFT specific but it could be – where you can have a situation where you sell a ticket for say a 1,000 person event and everyone buys in ethereum, if only 900 people turn up then the money that is made from those 100 people is distributed among the 900 who turned up.
“There’s a big incentive to actually turn up because otherwise you don’t get what you pay for, and if other people do turn up there is this community distribution effect, which is quite interesting.”