Crypto News
23 Feb 2022

Man City Meets Metaverse: Virtual Stadium Planned


What if the enthralling effect of watching a live football match could be brought to your home?

No, not the 2-D live streaming of sporting events that happen today, but the surreal experience of actually being there—the colorful stadium filled with fans waving flags and shouting anthems, while the piney smell of beer mixes with strong emotions and permeates the air. All while you stay in the safety and comfort of your living room!

This isn’t just fantasy; it’s a soon-to-be reality.

Manchester City Football Club, the English Premier League (EPL) champions for 2020–21, has now become the first to test the meta waters. Partnering with Sony Corporation through a three-year deal, the English club plans to build a virtual replica of the Etihad stadium in the metaverse. Located in Manchester, England, Etihad stadium is home to the reigning champions.

Hawk-EYE, a subsidiary of the Sony Corporation, has been roped in to recreate the stadium virtually using visualization technology.

How Does This Work?

The metaverse is a hyperreal immersive virtual reality space where digital avatars can co-exist and interact in 3-D, just like in the physical world. Using this technology, the project offers fans an opportunity to participate in the game remotely without discounting the physical experience of a full-packed stadium.

The club is also planning to allow fans to interact with players and with each other on the metaverse.

“The whole point we could imagine of having a metaverse is you can recreate a game, you could watch the game live, you’re part of the action in a different way through different angles and you can fill the stadium as much as you want because it’s unlimited, it’s completely virtual,” City’s Chief Marketing Nuria Tarré told the press last Friday, 18 February.

Football and Crypto Dribble Hand-in-Hand

Popular brands from different backgrounds, such as Meta (formerly Facebook), Disney, Nike, Adidas, Hyundai, and JPMorgan, have already entered metaverse looking to make the most of it. And football has merely joined the league.

City’s decision to enter the metaverse comes on the heels of its arch-rival Manchester United inking a $36.5 million/season deal with Tezos. Tezos, a proof-of-stake blockchain that also hosts metaverse projects, has been selected as United’s official blockchain and training kit partner. The club aims to push for blockchain and web3 adoption to transform fan, player, team, and partner engagement.

However, the metaverse quest is not the only thing connecting football and crypto. In early 2021, ex-Real Madrid player David Barral became the first footballer to be signed into the Spanish team Dux International using Bitcoin as payment. 

Likewise, the Italian Serie C club Rimini FC sold 25% of its stake using Quantcoin. Watford FC became the first club to display Bitcoin’s logo on their shirt in the 2019–20 season. An NFT featuring Ronaldo sold for a mind-blowing $4,00,000. And Lionel Messi’s PSG deal was partly paid in PSG fan tokens.

Perhaps the biggest of these is the issuance of “fan tokens” by clubs. Nearly 24 football clubs, including 8 Premier League sides, have issued such tokens. These tokens incorporate the voice of fans in management decisions. With them, the fans can call the shots on everything from songs played during goals to picking the starting line-ups.

It will thus be interesting to watch how metaverse and crypto will likely transform the game of football in the coming years.

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