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Last September, English premier league side Watford made an unusual decision. They added Bitcoin’s logo on the sleeves of players’ jerseys to educate the public about crypto. The club’s main sponsors, sportsbet.io, paid for the endorsement.
Watford is not alone in embracing the rapidly growing wave of cryptocurrencies. From Manchester City to Barcelona, the football world is doing beautiful things with virtual currencies. Here are some of them.
Endorsement to Create Awareness
What Watford did last year is just one-way football clubs are showing support for virtual currencies. Some, like Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray are using crypto tokens to tally their global fan bases.
From a marketing perspective, tokens also allow football clubs to profit because fans pay money to gain them. However, these partnerships are proving European sides are in full support of the blockchain and everything it stands for.
Fans buy these tokens not only to prove they love clubs but also because they could benefit in multiple ways. Socio.com, which proposed the token idea to Atletico, Juventus and Galatasaray, says paying fans could be allowed to participate in some club decisions in the future.
Bitcoin and Betting
Bookmakers began accepting crypto long before football clubs forged relationships with Bitcoin businesses. The betting industry has always been a fast adopter, after all. As a result, you can deposit your Ethereum, Litecoin or Ripple coins and use them to wager on any football match.
What’s more, you are not limited on what to bet on. You could wager on:
- Money line
- Correct scores
- Over/Under goal predictions
- Goal-goal or no-goal
According to one site that reviews the best Bitcoin betting sites, using crypto is exceedingly easy. All you need is an account on a Bitcoin exchange platform. You can then trade your cash for virtual currencies and load them to your favourite Bitcoin betting website.
Of course, using crypto for betting is best suited to people who use the payment currency regularly. That’s because most bookies still support cash payments. So, if you have money in your PayPal account, there would be no need to convert it to crypto.
- Buying Merchandise
If you love crypto and football, you can now use your altcoins to purchase your favourite team’s jersey conveniently. Take Benfica as an example. If you like the football club, you can buy tickets or jerseys using Ethereum, Bitcoin or Utrust tokens. Utrust is the club’s primary crypto partner.
Benfica initiated crypto payments in June 2019 as it sought to increase its revenues. And with seven million fans from across the world on social media, crypto is one of the best ways to tap on the market.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, some MLS clubs have been allowing players to purchase memorabilia and digital merchandise using Bitcoin. To spice things up, they also allow fans to buy tokens that could explode in value later on.
- Transfers and Player Salaries
Not so long ago, businesses around the world were competing on being the first of their kind to accept crypto. In 2018, Turkish side Harunustaspor made such a record by becoming the first football club to pay for a player using Bitcoin.
The second-division team paid £385 worth of Bitcoin plus an extra £470 to complete the deal. The club’s story went viral immediately, earning coverage from CNN, the Guardian and Business Insider.
In Gibraltar, a football club owner introduced crypto to all of his employees in a bid to popularize QTC, an altcoin. The players and staff would choose whether to receive payments in crypto or fiat. However, all bonuses would be disbanded as crypto.
Unfortunately, the plan didn’t last for long due to technical and operational challenges. Precisely, the QTC project never got popular beyond Gibraltar United, and investors gave up on it.
- Advertising in Football
European football clubs are ever looking for new sponsorship deals. On the other end, crypto businesses want new customers. Due to that, it comes as no surprise that some of the biggest clubs in Europe regularly advertise crypto businesses on their jerseys or stadium advertising boards.
Arsenal was first among the big six clubs in England to seal a crypto sponsorship when the club accepted a deal from CashBet in 2018. Wolves made a similar move later that year, partnering with CoinDeal to have the crypto exchange’s logo appear on the club’s sleeves.
Still in 2018, Leicester City, Southampton, Cardiff and Brighton signed contracts to promote the crypto exchange platform eToro. The trading website later launched a program dubbed eToro FC to help educate premier league fans about crypto.
- Influential Marketing via Footballers
Before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) got involved, multiple American athletes and European footballers accepted deals to endorse all sorts of altcoins. Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined hands with social media crypto app all.me in 2018 and called it “a project in which I believe a lot.”
A year before that, Barcelona’s ace Lionel Messi accepted a deal to become the brand ambassador of Swiss crypto startup Sirin Labs. As proof of success, Sirin raised over $255 million through a fundraising campaign that followed Messi’s deal.
Two more Barcelona players, Luis Suarez and former forward Ronaldinho also made notable crypto partnerships at the time. The Uruguayan endorsed sports prediction app Stox back in 2017 to his then 30 million fans.
The Brazilian, on the other end, had a bigger project back then. In 2018, the former Barcelona and PSG star launched a crypto project dubbed ‘Ronaldinho Soccer Coin Project.’ Its goal would be to provide betting and access to football merchandises.
For the last several years, football has been forging a close relationship with crypto businesses. First, bookmakers began to support Bitcoin for payments. Then clubs started accepting crypto sponsorships. A few clubs paid for players using virtual currencies while others proposed the idea of paying their stars using the same.
For various reasons, some crypto-football partnerships have failed. However, others have succeeded, raising hope the best of both industries is yet to come.