In the last two decades, cryptocurrencies have soared into the public eye. Once understood only by tech heads and financial insiders, they’ve become mainstream commodities traded by a surprisingly large percentage of the population. In the last two years, crypto has become increasingly entangled in the world of football, infiltrating transfers, club acquisitions and fan interactions.
Indeed, it seems as though the burgeoning reach of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is set to become a common companion to the beautiful game in the months and years ahead. So, how exactly is the former impacting the latter? And what can we expect from the relationship in the future? We take a closer look at the issue below.
In January 2021, third-tier Spanish team DUX International de Madrid made headlines and history when they became the first side to purchase a player using cryptocurrency alone. David Barral, a 37-year-old forward who once graced the ranks of Real Madrid’s B team, made the switch from Racing Santander to DUX for an undisclosed amount of Bitcoin. Of course, the story was front page news at the time, but it’s likely to become an increasingly common occurrence.
Meanwhile, AZ Alkmaar announced in July of that year that it intends to pay its playing staff in Bitcoin at some point in the future. This kind of forward thinking opens up a myriad of possibilities in improving transparency and immediacy in the fulfilment of player contracts, wages and bonuses.
Even prior to Barral’s transfer and AZ’s announcement, cryptocurrency had already made its presence felt in football. As far back as 2018, seven teams in the English Premier League signed sponsorship deals with investment trading portal eToro. That figure has risen sharply in the interim, with more teams in England’s topflight now enjoying the partnership than those who don’t.
Over in Italy, Serie C team Rimini became the first football club in the world to have part of its ownership purchased in Bitcoin. Also in 2018, the blockchain technology company Quantocoin acquired a 25% stake in Rimini, an indication of things to come in the future.
Cryptocurrency has also enhanced the ways in which fans can enjoy the beautiful game. For starters, websites like Bitcasino.io make the whole gambling experience safer, more anonymous, more convenient and more attractive through the myriad benefits that crypto casinos offer.
Meanwhile, clubs themselves have been leveraging crypto in order to engage more closely with their fanbase. For example, fan tokens have been made available for sale from some of the sport’s most prominent teams, including Juventus, PSG and Manchester City. By buying these digital assets, fans are rewarded with regular perks and promotions, as well as the chance to vote on certain club matters. For example, holders of Juventus fan tokens can pick which song is played after the Old Lady finds the back of the net.
While cryptocurrency’s involvement in the football world is still in its infancy, the early signs are that the relationship will be a long, fruitful and extremely exciting one.