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Blockchain Joins Major League Sports

by James Musoba
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Blockchain is revolutionizing the digital world. Now that information and interactions can be closely monitored and recorded for future reference, cryptocurrencies can freely move throughout cyberspace without fear of corruption.

Blockchain has helped provide a secure foundation for cryptocurrencies, but its utility expands beyond the world of financial technology. Blockchain’s reliability as a foundation for apps and platforms makes it appealing across a wide variety of industries. It’s now even part of UNICEF’s innovation fund seed. 

In particular, the sports world is enjoying the many benefits of blockchain. Worldwide, popular sports leagues like the NBA or UEFA Champions League attract millions of dollars and spectators worldwide each year.

Managing the seemingly endless web of sports-related input can be difficult. Leagues often cross international boundaries, selling merchandising, tickets, and broadcasting rights. Internally, leagues must keep track of hundreds of players, paying salaries while brokering complicated inter-club deals.

In short, the sports world could use an interminable system for storing and integrating information. Luckily, more and more groups are turning to blockchain to either help with difficult tasks or to cater to athlete requests.

Salaries in Crypto

More and more professional athletes are calling for salaries in cryptocurrency. For most leagues around the world, this comes down to the preference of an individual franchise. In other words, while the Premier League may not have any official standing on cryptocurrency, a club like Liverpool or Arsenal could choose to pay out players in crypto.

Given the popularity of cryptocurrency and the expectation that Bitcoin and Ethereum will hold around 25% of the crypto market, a majority of athletes requesting payment in crypto prefer these currencies.

But Bitcoin and Ethereum aren’t the only cryptos on the rise in the sports world. Recently, Japanese group SBI Holdings decided to invest in the crypto-verse by paying pro eSports athletes Subaru Sagano and Kenji Suzuki in XRP rather than yen.

Meanwhile, in the US, NFL player Matt Barkley has attempted to request Bitcoin payment from both franchises he’s played with. The Cincinnati Bengals opted out, as did the San Francisco 49ers despite their location in Silicon Valley, one of the most crypto-friendly areas in the world.

LA Chargers player Russell Okung, who also serves as part of the NFL Player’s Association, has also made attempts to be paid through Bitcoin. Though the NFL is clearly hesitant to jump into crypto, the NBA seems to have little qualms. While players have yet to be paid (at least publicly) in crypto, individual franchises are paving the way for a crypto-friendly stadium experience.

man looking at postcards
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Ticketing Solutions & Fan Engagement 

Blockchain has more to offer than a platform for secure financial interactions. Since 2014, the Sacramento Kings have allowed fans to pay for tickets and retail through Bitcoin, relying on blockchain to facilitate interactions.

Though sportsbooks that offer NBA betting odds tend to focus on teams like the Lakers or the Bucks, the Kings have found a way to remain relevant in the major leagues by providing fans (and players) diverse payment options—and they aren’t the only team.

Since the Kings’ 2014 shift to crypto, the Dallas Mavericks have also followed suit. However, as the NBA sets up crypto to elevate its fan experience, UEFA’s Champions League is using blockchain to manage ticketing solutions.

Each year, the best 24 teams across the continent bring together millions of fans. International matches draw in spectators from great distances—but given the league’s popularity, fraudulent ticket sales have been a repeated issue.

UEFA is turning to an app-based ticketing system that can manage to distribute tickets across multiple countries. Using QR codes, fans are able to securely buy or resell tickets in a one-stop-shop app that’s officially affiliated with the league.

Beyond UEFA, individual clubs are also looking at blockchain in order to improve fan experiences through an app called Socios. The blockchain-powered app is designed to bring fans closer to the action with curated content based on preference.

So far, Socios has partnered with illustrious European football clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus, Paris-Saint Germain, and Atletico Madrid.

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