- Barcelona to release its NFTs ‘soon’
- The club was a founding member of the European Super League
- It has an estimated 300m global fans
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said the club intends to launch its own cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in a bid to compete with other major European soccer clubs backed by foreign investors and sovereign wealth funds.
The club has been an outspoken critic of the ‘unsustainability’ of European soccer, a view that led to it becoming a founding member of the failed European Super League experiment last year and has endured well-publicised financial issues over the past year.
Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC), a major event for the mobile industry in the Catalan capital, Laporta made similar arguments about sustainability and argued that digital innovation could be a way for Barcelona to better compete with well-funded rivals that it believes are not subject to the same regulations.
“We have to be capable of getting the same resources as our competitors,” he said. “The problem is that when the rules are not the same for all of us … it is difficult to compete and this the reason why some clubs are fighting for decisions we think is not far. We cannot compete against [state-owned clubs].”
Laporta argued that new technologies would allow the club to leverage its history and heritage to compete with this new money, while engaging a global fan base that may never step foot in the club’s fabled Camp Nou Stadium.
“There is a traditional [soccer] business that everyone knows [about] but then there is a new world and in this world, in order to compete, we have to develop a big department for technology and innovation,” he said.
“We are developing our Metaverse and our Web3 and we have rejected to be associated with a cryptocurrency,” he added, referencing the fact that Barcelona recently turned down a sponsorship offer from a crypto company. “We want to create our own cryptocurrency that will be under the control of the club. We understand we have to do it ourselves and we have enough talent I the club to develop all these [things]. With Blockchain there are a lot of opportunities.
“I think soon we will present our first NFTs and the reason why we are planning this is to help our finances. We have 300 million fans around the world, and we are working very hard to register all these fans. The big data is very important.”
The speed at which sports teams and federations have embraced Blockchain-based technology has attracted scepticism among those who believe it is an unregulated area that delivers little value to fans whose loyalty is being exploited.
Several sports teams and federations have signed sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency firms, launched fan tokens, and released NFT collections. Barcelona itself has launched a fan token but was forced to cancel an NFT partnership with Ownix after a consultant linked to the firm was arrested.
The episode hasn’t dampened Barcelona’s enthusiasm for new technologies, only increased its desire to retain as much control as possible.