The relationship between technology and football has been a bit of a mixed bag. While the sport has adopted many technologies and evolved to stay on top of present-day challenges, it still manages to hold on to some ancient practices. For instance, the transfer agreement between Real Madrid and Manchester United for David de Gea broke down at the last minute because the fax machine took forever to finalize the proceedings.
Half the world doesn’t even know what fax machines are any more. So, how could a fax machine stall the dealings of two of the biggest clubs in the football space!
Real-world Use of Crypto in Football
Thankfully, the sport isn’t adverse to change and has even tested the crypto waters. It is no surprise, though, given that a complementary industry (sports betting) already uses cryptocurrency and related technologies. Many online casinos allow cryptocurrency as an alternative payment method, and some have incorporated blockchain technology for safeguarding users. While the applications are much different here in football, the base idea is relatively the same: safer, easier, borderless payments and security of transactions.
For example, in 2018, tickets to the European Super Cup game between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid were sold using a smartphone-based blockchain application. Since then, the use of crypto has grown in the sport, with Harunustaspor, a club in the Turkish league, rolling out Bitcoin for the signature of Omar Faruk Kiroglu. The player’s signing-on bonus was even paid in Bitcoin. In 2021, David Barral, a former Real Madrid player, completed his move to a new club with payment made in Bitcoin.
In 2022, FIFA and Crypto.com penned a deal for the Qatar World Cup. The cryptocurrency exchange, which doubles as an NFT marketplace, looks to draw attention to its brand. And as football players, teams, and governing agencies continue to maintain interest in crypto, football-related tokens and digital currencies are highly likely.
Crypto and Salary Payments
In 2018, Gibraltar United became the first football side to use cryptocurrency to settle players’ salaries. Given the volatility of crypto, such an undertaking may be challenging. But it hasn’t stopped players and clubs from considering the prospect. The reason isn’t far fetched, either. Crypto payments typically rely on blockchain technology, which offers transparency and helps reduce the rate of financial opacity rife in the sport. Since blockchains record transaction details, it’d be easier to trace all payments to their sources.
Crypto could also help prevent background fraud and human rights infractions occurring at the fringes of football, similar to the issues plaguing the diamond industry. In the latter, blockchain has proved invaluable in tracking the origins and distribution of diamonds through trade routes.
Football isn’t short of stories about players shelling out huge payments to agents for non-existent transfer contracts and trials. There’s also the issue of undisclosed transactions at the top ranks of governing bodies. With blockchain, clubs, players, and FIFA-certified agents will have approved unique codes used to verify the legitimacy of transactions. This will help in avoiding fraudsters and exposing underhanded dealings. Fans will also benefit from the blockchain, as they can now buy tickets directly and securely without going through third parties.
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