Following on from Part I’s general overview of Web3 implementations in the sports world, Part II will consist of a more specific analysis, homing in on one sports team in particular. Based in Lisbon, Portugal; Businessplug is only around the corner from football heavyweights SL Benfica, who are leading the way in Portuguese football when utilising innovative Web3 tools to boost fan engagement. Over the past few years, the club has been testing the Web3 waters and how it can be used to build a stronger bond with its fans.
In June 2019, Benfica announced that it would be accepting cryptocurrency payments for merchandise and ticket sales, the first topflight European club to do so. The Portuguese side partnered with Portuguese cryptocurrency payment solutions company Utrust, now known as xMoney, to allow fans to purchase products on the online store via blockchain. Popular cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are accepted as well as the native Utrust token ($UTK).
Utrust vows to modernise the payments industry by supplying an instant conversion from crypto to fiat currency. This allows SL Benfica to benefit from the security of blockchain payments whilst disassociating from the risk of volatility brought by cryptocurrencies.
With an estimated 15 million Benfiquistas [supporters] across the globe, this partnership is aiming to boost that number. The introduction of a crypto payment method hopes to draw tech-savvy supporters in and increase the size of the fan base in the next generation. Furthermore, an industry-level evolution in football e-commerce will plant more SL Benfica merchandise in untapped parts of the world to amplify their brand.
Mystery Box of 38
After SL Benfica’s 38th Primeira Liga title win this season, the club launched the sale of its Mystery box of 38 products during June. Hidden inside these digital mystery boxes are three unique NFT collectibles epitomising SL Benfica’s title-winning season:
- A numbered representation of the 22/23 championship trophy
- One of 100+ video highlights of the season
- One of 100+ player cards with rarity levels, bronze, silver, gold, platinum
Issued on the Polygon Blockchain, the NFT collectibles can be kept or traded by fans to expand their collection. As well as these collectibles, fans also receive a limited-edition t-shirt and scarf exclusive to this sale and a range of offers for next season such as the possibility of watching a match from a private box.
The box was Produced in partnership with Web3 Portuguese companies, Crowdclass and Subvisual who were part of the team which founded Utrust by raising an impressive $20 million in an ICO. Crowdclass provides a platform to build NFT-powered experiences that hide the complexities of blockchain whilst Subvisual handcrafts digital experiences and builds products in the Web3 space.
The purpose behind this concept is to allow fans to feel they were a part of their title win and for each one to have their own individual piece of memorabilia to remember the season. Moreover, 70% of the mystery box purchases didn’t use a Web3 wallet, illustrating digital fan engagement projects like this are still very accessible for non-Web3 natives. This could be considered as a practical case linking to our previous insight regarding Web 3.0 Abstraction, fans can use their familiar fiat currency in order to acquire their potential first of many digital assets. This is just one small piece in the puzzle to onboard the next billion users into Web3.
Just two weeks ago, SL Benfica announced they would be the first Portuguese club to partner with fan token platform Socios, joining European giants such as Juventus, Manchester City and Barcelona.
Founded in 2018 by Maltese entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus, Socios is powered by the Proof-of-authority blockchain platform Chiliz which Dreyfus also founded. Users purchase Chiliz ($CHZ), an ERC20 token on the Ethereum network, with their standard fiat currency then exchange $CHZ for their favourite team’s fan tokens. A limited number of fan tokens are made available to purchase at a fixed price for a short period before being listed on the marketplace where prices can fluctuate. Once users acquire fan tokens, they will be able to participate in club decisions by voting in fan polls on official merch designs, stadium celebration music, and other fan-related matters. The greater the number of fan tokens a user holds, the greater the impact their vote has, for example, voting whilst holding 50 fan tokens wields 50 times more impact than holding just 1 token. Fan tokens can then be traded/sold on the marketplace where prices will fluctuate due to demand and other market conditions which may relate to the specific team.
20 million Benfica fan tokens will be made, 500,000 of these will be made available to purchase at the fixed price of €1 during the fan token offering period. During this period, there will be two waves where from 12:00pm on 24th July, users will be capped at purchasing 100 tokens each for 24 hours. After this wave, they will then be allowed to purchase an uncapped amount until the tokens sell out.
Current users of the app will also be able to find a gamified countdown feature to celebrate the launch of the SL Benfica token. Named Voo da Vitória, Benfiquistas will be able to follow the famous club mascot, the Vitória eagle as it flies to Estádio da Luz. Fans will be able to earn exciting rewards along the eagle’s journey before it lands at Estádio da Luz on 24th July.
“Benfica is constantly focused on searching for and delivering a positive experience to our huge global fanbase which includes both Members and Supporters. We have been paying very close attention to Digital Assets, a market which has been influential in our industry of late. We are delighted to be partnering with Socios.com, the ideal partner for developing our tokens and for bringing the worldwide Benfica family closer together” – Domingos Soares Oliveira, SL Benfica CEO.
Overall, it’s great to see a global football club in the form of SL Benfica creating partnerships with Portuguese Web3 businesses in order to accommodate such a large and diverse fanbase. Using Web3 fan engagement strategies not only benefits the club and the fans by strengthening their coalition but also the Web3 community. This is because the majority of the football fan demographic is yet to interact with any Web3 initiatives so it is a more than suitable audience to target when it comes to onboarding new users.