The latest entrants in the metaverse world are football clubs as they look for new ways of engaging with their fans and providing them a brand-new experience, especially in a post Covid world.
“Web 3.0-enabled metaverses are opening several innovative opportunities for football clubs to engage with their fans and create new marketing opportunities. Metaverse experiences will mean that fans are no longer watching the game but experiencing it,” says Dhwani Mehta, member of Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), and chief of staff, NFT Labs, a company that provides metaverse solutions.
Here are some of the metaverse-related developments made by various football clubs around the globe.
1. Manchester City Fc: The winner of the 2020-21 English Premier League (EPL) and five EPL titles since 2011, Manchester City has partnered with Sony, a Japanese tech conglomerate, to build ‘Etihad Stadium’, its iconic home stadium named after its Dubai-based sponsor Etihad Airways, in the metaverse world.
The technology to be used for building this virtual stadium is ‘Hawk-Eye’, developed by Sony and uses image analysis and skeletal-tracking technologies to provide information for third umpire decisions presently.
“It may be a risky move, but for Manchester City, the removal of physical events or a move to an immersive hybrid model could open up esports fan engagement to completely different levels. This is being put in action through Manchester City FC’s and Sony’s partnership, where they are working towards rendering an accurate metaverse version of the Premier League champions’ home stadium, the Etihad, which could be visited by fans around the world through their avatars,” says Pratik Gauri, Founder and CEO of 5ire.org, a sustainable blockchain company.
2. Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama: The professional Brazilian football club based in Rio De Janeiro has partnered with MetaSoccer, the world’s first soccer metaverse game, to launch a licensed team.
"Earlier this month, MetaSoccer has announced its partnership with Brazilian Soccer Club De Regatas Vasco da Gama to launch a licensed soccer team with NFT players born natively in the metaverse.Metaverse will soon replace even more real-world sports with virtual ones, which can be beneficial and easy to access," said Edul Patel, CEO and Co-founder, Mudrex, a global algorithm based crypto investment platform.
Players can manage their clubs and generate income while playing in the MetaSoccer metaverse. They will basically earn MetaSoccer crypto after successfully completing some predetermined tasks like winning a match, selling a player and lots of other tasks. The technology is based on blockchain, and it forms part of a decentralised gaming ecosystem.
“The gaming industry market size will hit $545.98 billion by 2028 and metaverse gaming will be a key driver. Metaverse and NFT combined will create a football experience such as ‘living the best memories of matches, metaverse museum and players’ virtual self that will live forever. It will also give an opportunity to interact with fans,” says Dileep Seinberg, founder and CEO, Thinkchain, a crypto, NFT and blockchain advisory company.
3. Barcelona Fc: Fc Barcelona, which has won 26 La Liga Spanish league cup championships, announced its intention to enter the metaverse world during the Mobile World Congress 2022 held recently. Barcelona Fc’s club president Joan Laporta said that they intend to develop their own metaverse experience, NFT and other new business technologies to increase fan engagement and e-sports. But he did not provide any further key details.
“Fans can imagine having the game being transported to their living room with 3D actual size avatars. They can pause that match, zoom in and out and even walk on the football field. With holograms, they will be able to meet their favourite players even if they are miles away and probably also get a private class upon purchasing an NFT,” says Mehta.
4. Birmingham City Fc: In December 2021, Birmingham City Fc started working on real-time imaging data gathering tasks to build its home stadium, St. Andrew’s Stadium, in the metaverse world. For their metaverse project, they have partnered up with esports platform Ultimo GG.
The club also said that their metaverse project would help increase fan engagement and entertainment opportunities and provide a fundraising opportunity for the BCFC Community Trust, Academy and other similar charitable causes.
“Covid has accelerated the growth of virtual reality. In 2022, the world is getting back to its senses but is still terrified, and technology can save us. Metaverse is one such technology that can allow us to do all our social activities but keep us safe,” says Kumar Gaurav, founder and CEO of Cashaa, a crypto blockchain based bank.