It is estimated that football is followed by 4 billion people in the world, which makes it the most popular sport in the world. The billions of fans translate in billions spent by those same fans to watch games or buy merchandise every year.
As crypto and blockchain are emerging to revolutionize the digital world, certain companies have already started working on bringing numerous advantages offered by the blockchain technology, to football in general.
eToro, an online investment platform and exchange, signed as many as seven sponsorship deals with English Premier League clubs. The Israel-based company partnered with Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton & Hove Albion and Cardiff City to become the first company “to pay for a Premier League partnership in bitcoin.”
“We signed our sponsorship deal with the clubs in cryptocurrency so that they could get used to the different kind of currency. So, clubs could get used to using a digital wallet for example. We are still at the education and introduction phase, but the next stage will be much easier, I expect to see the purchasing of players using Bitcoin and crypto asserts,” says Iqbal Gandham, the Managing Director of eToro.
Moreover, the plans are much bigger than the mere sponsorship deals. Deloitte Football Money League, which is traditionally published every year, is a ranking of football clubs by revenue generated from football operations. For instance, thirteen football clubs based in England have recorded more than €4.4 billion in revenue in 2018 only.
“Blockchain fundamentally allows you to trust a transaction through its transparency and also make that transaction automated. The scale it can be used to improve football is second to none,” adds Gandham.
In July 2018, the Guardian reported that Gibraltar United became the first football club in the world to pay its players’ wages in cryptocurrency. The owner of the club, Pablo Dana, also invested in Quantocoin cryptocurrency.
Previously, a little known football club in Turkey, called Harunustaspor, completed the world’s first football transfer using bitcoin. As a part of the agreement, the new player received 0.0524 bitcoin.
As transparency is one of the key features provided by the usage of blockchain technology, eToro is looking at ways on how to improve this aspect of the world’s most popular sport. It is reported that they held numerous meetings with the Football Association and individual clubs, in order to explore possible advantages blockchain and crypto can bring.
“What would blockchain give you? It gives you that guarantee of trust and I think that is really, really important. It will allow us to build a great twenty or thirty-year record, a database which shows all money transfers from clubs to players. That would be really interesting to a true supporter,” adds Gandham.
In the 2010-2018 time range, five clubs – Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Manchester United – have spent more than €7 billion om transfers. Some of the deals have been marked by controversy and unpopular third-party ownership i.e. the ownership of a player’s economic rights by third-party sources.
“There is so much money in football and the fact it is still so opaque is astonishing, in terms of even who owns the players. it’s these things that blockchain can make far more transparent, the money flows in and also out of our sport,” concludes Gandham.