Blockchain applications are not limited to financial products and services. From ticketing to community building and fan merchandise: Use cases and growth opportunities in the multi-billion-dollar sports industry.

With 14,336 seats, the Le Coq Arena in Tallinn is Estonia’s largest football stadium. When Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid met there for the UEFA Super Cup on 15 August 2018, the place was packed. But one thing was different this time: Anyone wanting to enter the stadium first had to authenticate their ticket via a mobile app.

This app was part of a pilot project: UEFA sold 100% of the match tickets on the Blockchain, with each ticket being represented by a digital token. Football fans received a QR Code, which they had to scan at the stadium entrance to confirm the authenticity of their ticket. The UEFA developed the system to prevent ticket fraud, as each ticket could be assigned a unique Blockchain token. 

Fighting ticket fraud with blockchain

The pilot project was a success and UEFA now wants to expand its blockchain ticketing system to combat the rampant black market trade: As a next step, UEFA will sell one million of a total of three million UEFA Euro 2020 tickets on the Blockchain. Fans who bought their ticket in December 2019 or later will receive an electronic, blockchain-based ticket through the UEFA Euro 2020 Ticket App. 

That said, UEFA Euro is only one of many sports events – and football only one of many sports. Estimates of the sports industry’s market size range from $500 billion and $1.3 trillion – blockchain could make a huge difference here, both for sports fans and the organizers. 

Digital disruption: Blockchain use cases in the sports industry 

Ticket authentication on the blockchain is just one of many potential blockchain applications that sports organizers can take advantage of. The football club FC Barcelona, for example, recently announced the Barca fan token ($BAR), with which the sports club wants to strengthen the bond with its fan community.

According to the official announcement, the token is part of a global expansion strategy with a “clear focus on the digital realm.” A tokenized voting platform will allow fans to participate in club-internal votes and surveys, while the token provides encrypted voting rights. This year, the sports club plans to sell 40 million of these fan tokens to its 351 million fans at a price tag of 2.20 US dollars each.

In addition to ticketing and community building, there is a range of other blockchain use cases: Sports clubs could also use the technology to authenticate merchandise and to securely share data with other service providers such as airlines or hotels in real-time. 

The opportunity is huge; sports and blockchain are a good match: Sports brings the world together – and so does Blockchain. The technology will change the sports industry in the coming years: It will allow businesses to share data to exploit synergies, and it will reduce costs to the benefit of both organizers and fans.