Barcelona Considering Crypto, NFT, and Metaverse
According to ESPN on Tuesday (March 1, 2022), FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, revealed the club’s plans while speaking at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Laporta said that the Spanish club made the decision to “survive financially”, with backing from foreign investors and big corporations.
In the words of the FC Barcelona president:
“We want to create our own cryptocurrency and we have to do that ourselves. We are different because we survive financially from what we can generate through the industry of sport. We do not have big corporations or shareholders behind us. That forces us to be imaginative, innovative, brave and be a step ahead in many areas that surround the sports industry.”
FC Barcelona has been turning down offers to partner with cryptocurrency businesses. Laporta noted that the club rejected such partnerships because of its plans to issue a digital currency. In addition, the president said that Barça was hoping to launch a set of NFTs in the near future, a venture which Laporta believes will improve the club’s finances.
The Barça executive further said:
“We’re developing our own metaverse, [which is why] we rejected the chance to be associated with any cryptocurrency enterprises.”
Larpota said that the players were aware of the planned projects, but did not give elaborate details, stating that this information was still confidential.
The latest development comes three months after FC Barcelona terminated its contract with the NFT marketplace Ownix in November 2021 to launch an NFT collection. The cancellation happened after the arrest of Israeli crypto entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg on charges of cryptocurrency fraud. According to reports, Hogeg had ties to Ownix.
A statement from the club’s website read:
“In light of information received today that goes against the Club’s values, FC Barcelona hereby communicates the cancellation of the contract to create and market NFT digital assets with Ownix with immediate effect.”
Crypto Penetration Deepens in Sports
While FC Barcelona is not currently considering sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency companies, the Spanish club has been actively involved in the industry. Back in 2020, Barça partnered with blockchain-based fan engagement platform Chiliz to generate engagement with the club’s global fanbase using the BAR fan token.
The BAR tokens enable supporters to participate in polls and surveys on Socios.com, a fan voting and rewards mobile app operated by Chiliz. Other club heavyweights which have also launched fan tokens include Juventus FC, Galatasaray, and AC Milan.
Apart from soccer, there continues to be a growing collaboration between the broader sports industry and the cryptocurrency sector. In September 2021, the American professional basketball team, the Philadelphia 79ers signed a deal with crypto exchange platform Crypto.com for a jersey sponsorship.
Another cryptocurrency exchange platform BitMEX entered a multi-year agreement with AC Milan to become the club’s official sleeve partner.