Manchester City is the latest entrant to the metaverse after the club announced a virtual version of its Etihad Stadium.
Football is going metaverse
After the Australian Open launched their version of the metaverse for this year’s tournament, Manchester City is the second sports institution to announce plans for the virtual world.
The Premier League Champions are partnering with Sony to build a virtual edition of the club’s Etihad Stadium, which is to become the team’s hub in the metaverse. The club announced a three-year agreement with the electronics giant, which will include virtual reality that experts can use for image analysis and skeletal-tracking technology from subsidiary Hawk-Eye. The Hawk-Eye technology has been used in other sports as well, not least in tennis, where it has become an essential part of the game.
Manchester City is looking to offset the blow that the pandemic restrictions have had on its business and stadium attendances. Even though some fans may still be banned from visiting the club’s matches due to travel or other type of restrictions, the metaverse version of the Etihad will provide a welcome alternative to seeing the action on the pitch in real life. Even outside of restrictions, the metaverse enables fans from all over the world to come closer together, as the club’s Chief Marketing Officer Nuria Tarré correctly noted:
“The whole point we could imagine of having a Metaverse is you can recreate a game, you could watch the game live, you’re part of the action in a different way through different angles and you can fill the stadium as much as you want because it’s unlimited, it’s completely virtual.”
Man City is also not the only club looking to bring football to the metaverse. Local rivals Manchester United recently penned a partnership with Tezos, a blockchain ecosystem, making them the club’s official cryptocurrency and training kit partner. Another big English club in Liverpool FC is also being rumoured to be interested in a metaverse expansion.
How web3 could change the sports world
Web3 will change how we use the internet, but it is unlikely to stop there.
Different sports have already been increasingly moving online, and blockchain technology will probably only accelerate this trend. A good example is streaming services, which have consolidated the fractured transmission rights situation in different sports.
Several European football leagues have signed contracts with services like DaZn, allowing fans to conveniently follow multiple leagues through one provider. Integrating different club metaverses with such streaming services would likely be technically easy to do and attractive to both parties. Moreover, fans would be able to “stadium-hop” in the virtual world in a way they can not in the real world.
Another example is that of club or league-themed governance tokens that allow fans to voice their opinions and influence their management. Several clubs – Manchester City being one of them – have already launched such tokens to engage fans even further.
Regardless of what direction blockchain technology will take different sports leagues, major change is coming.