One of blockchain tech’s undisputed qualities is the fact that it allows for transparency and accountability. Whenever large amounts of money are moved from place to place, there’s almost always a rancid cesspit of corruption seething underneath. And the multi-billion dollar soccer industry is no different. Backhanders, bribes, and other criminal activities are naturally par for the course. And with worldwide scandals like that of FIFA in 2015, it’s time to hold the perpetrators accountable.
At least, that’s the premise of Blocside Sports, a blockchain startup that’s on a mission to wipe out inefficiencies and corruption from the sport. Not only do soccer fans and clubs suffer from the numerous changing of hands behind every transaction, but many players are caught up in a cycle of broken promises and shady payments. Says Daniel Taylor, CEO & Co-Founder, “We believe there’s a better way through transparency and accountability.”
Their MVP token will be the first digital token within professional soccer, and the hope of this bright-eyed ICO team is to create a transparent financial infrastructure that can scale and support the evolution of digital currencies within the professional soccer industry, which is valued at over $40 billion.
Another Classic Case of a Broken Supply Chain
Blockchain technology is already seeing major potential and results, fixing broken supply chains in many industries. And professional soccer seems to be another classic case of many a damaged link along the chain. As an ecosystem in itself, the soccer industry is subject to multiple middlemen at every transaction, when you consider the myriad of countries, capital flows, and currencies involved. The result? A lot of room for improvement.
“We have found that there are many financial and operational inefficiencies within the soccer industry,” Taylor states. After the very public FIFA scandal of 2015 that even made it onto American news, no one can deny that corruption in the sport is a problem. And it’s one that extends beyond the FIFA to individual clubs, agents, and players. “The system does not lead to transparency,” he concludes.
Your average club receives funds from multiple channels, including sponsorship, broadcasting rights, tickets sales, merchandising, and transfer fees. These transactions are settled in multiple currencies, which means that the clubs lose money on nearly every exchange. Payments are also delayed often, leading to a lack of trust among clubs.
The Blockchain Solution
Blocside’s MVP token will allow for transparency of transactions, removal of conversion rates, and much-needed accountability. It will also let the fans get more involved by holding a stake in their favorite club, so they can really feel like they’re ‘in the game’ rather than just ‘at the game’.
The young company is also considering buying their own team to provide them with a “proving ground for both sides of our business.” They could test their token technology, and provide a successful use case that could be rolled out to others. “That’s a story we can take to all football clubs, leagues and associations,” Taylor says.
But is the Soccer Industry Ready for Change?
Whether the soccer industry will be quick to adopt cryptocurrency remains to be seen, although Arsenal became the first major club to sign a deal with CashBet earlier this year. And actually, the sport has a long history of appealing to online gamblers (particularly in Asia) through their sponsors.
But some question the wisdom of promoting a very risky investment to fans. Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement, “The partnership aims to promote CashBet Coin ahead of their Initial Coin Offer … it does not exist to encourage fans to bet with CashBet Coin.”
Above all, the soccer industry is a business. And like any business, it will accept blockchain technology and cryptocurrency if doing so favors the bottom line. If there is more money on the table, the clubs will be sitting at it. But how will Blocside fair in an industry where crypto is already filtering in?
“There will be winners and losers,” says Taylor. “Football fans wouldn’t want it any other way.”