The sports industry just like a lot of other industries went through a devastating period during the COVID-19 pandemic, but if we talk about the positives, the sports industry has retorted and developed new strategies to ensure clubs and fans remain connected in a socially distanced world.
The industry has recognized that blockchain is capable of revolutionizing revenue streams and the fan experience through increased crypto-sponsorships, fan tokens, non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”), or even by the entrance of blockchain providers into the market.
Sponsorships have led to a growing awareness between viewers and investors of cryptocurrencies at a time when the prevalence of crypto in the media and daily life is also rising.
But how did this revolution exactly begin?
One of the first recorded cryptocurrency marketing initiatives was the signed sponsorship agreement between the US bitcoin payment processor BitPay and ESPN Events in December 2014. BitPay also sponsored the St. Petersburg Bowl to promote Bitcoin, an annual football post-season football match for colleges in the USA.
If we talk about the recent rise in this particular sponsorship saga, the perfect example would be of eToro. Intending to promote its crypto-trading service, eToro partnered with several Premier League teams – paid for entirely with Bitcoin. By September 2020, the platform became one of Europe’s biggest football sponsors of clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur FC, Brighton & Hove Albion FC, Cardiff City FC, Crystal Palace FC, Leicester City FC, Watford FC, Newcastle United FC, and Southampton FC. eToro suggests that cryptocurrency can be used to authenticate merchandise, reduce ticket touting and for player transfers.
In March 2021, Aston Martin’s Formula One cognizant was the first F1 to partner with a crypto-currency company. Crypto.com is a platform with over ten million active users that will certainly gain more brand awareness in competition around the world with Aston Martin F1 cars.
In early 2018, Harunustapor, a Turkish football club, became the world’s first football team to purchase a player using Bitcoin. The player, Omar Faruk Kiroglu (22 years old), received 0.0524 in Bitcoin (£385) and ₺2,500 (£470) as part of the deal with Harunustaspor.
The intersection between sports and technology with the appearance of fan engagement tokens has developed to become one of the most exciting innovations. A fan engagement token provides fans and followers, the power to influence certain decisions taken by their favourite sports team.
Recently when the legend of Football Lionel Messi made a historic move from FC Barcelona to PSG, the French club confirmed that Fan Tokens would be included in Messi’s “welcome package,” which media reports estimate to be worth €30m (£25m), as for how much of the fee will be paid in Crypto, the club said it would be “significant.”
Recently, the Indian multi-dollar startup CoinDCX became the official title sponsor of the T20I series between India and Sri Lanka. Cricket was always sponsored by globally renowned brands. This was the first time that a crypto-asset exchange became the title sponsor for a series in the history of cricket sponsors. An international bilateral series getting sponsored by a new age fintech company shows that the Indian economy is evolving.