Crypto in Football: UEFA Goes Blockchain With Ticket Sales

Tickets for this week’s UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid in Tallinn, Estonia was 100% sold and distributed to the general public through the deployment of a blockchain-based dedicated iOS and android app, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has confirmed.

Held at the A. Le Coq Arena football stadium with its 15,000 capacity, UEFA chose to use the blockchain-based ticket distribution system combined with mobile Bluetooth devices at the stadium entrances because it is not only secure but prevents the replication and duplication of tickets.

The football body which governs all the clubs in Europe adds that fine-tuning and improvements of the system had been done earlier when it was tested at several events and later used for 50% of the tickets distributed to the general public for the 2018 UEFA Europa League final between Atlético and Marseille in Lyon. The Parc Olympique Lyonnaistadium where the match was played had more than 55,000 spectators in attendance.

The statement from the UEFA also says that the successful implementation of the new system in the Lyon final catalyzed the body to increase the distribution system to all of the general public acquiring tickets for the UEFA Super Cup match in Estonia.

UEFA is one and the biggest of the four football federations under FIFA. While it notes it will continue to develop the system further with the aim of using it at future events, the noteworthy development adds to growing use cases of crypto-related technology in the European football market which Deloitte says is worth some €25.5bn. As the public database that keeps a permanent record of digital transactions in cryptocurrency, blockchain has been touted to disrupt several industries, including football, as it evolves with time.

Earlier this year, Premier Division Gibraltar United became the world’s first football team to introduce cryptocurrency into its running club. This follows the regulations introduced in Gibraltar for businesses using the blockchain in January 2018. The government is also set to launch the world’s first legal framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs) which blockchain-based projects use to crowdfund and launch crypto tokens.

Also in January, amateur Turkish football side Harunustaspor, which play in the Sakrya First Division Group B, became the first club to sign a player using cryptocurrency. They paid about $500 worth of bitcoin and 4,500 lira (~$600) to sign Omer Faruk Kiroglu. On a larger scale, Arsenal signed a sponsorship deal with the US cryptocurrency CashBet for the Premier League club to promote its ICO at the 60,000-seat Emirates stadium.

Though the former owner of another major European club, Milan, failed in attempts to use bitcoin to pay off a €10m portion of the loan he took to buy the club, the discussion of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in certain aspects of the football industry points at the potential of the technology to play a big role in the business.

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