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Next Step in English Premier League: Player Transfers For Bitcoin

The massive transfer fees associated with signings in the English Premier League, the top flight of world soccer, could be paid using Bitcoin in the not too distant future, say commentators on the game.

Clubs worldwide endorsing blockchain related technology is becoming a far more common sight, with at least three teams in the Premier League endorsing blockchain products this season. Also, individual players such as Messi, Ronaldhino and Michael Owen have put their names behind crypto related enterprises in recent months with endorsements now becoming a regular feature of the game as cryptocurrency grows in popularity.

The first actual player signing using cryptocurrency was in January of this year when Turkish amateur club Harunustaspor signed its first Bitcoin player, paying a modest 0.0524 BTC for the transfer. However, pundits think that crypto transfers are on their way to the multibillion-pound Premier League in the near future, some reports indicating that it could be in as little as a few months.

Major global investment platform eToro which uses blockchain and enables users to invest in crypto sees Bitcoin transfers in England’s top flight as inevitable. The company has already launched a number of Premier League partnerships this season including, Brighton, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Newcastle, Southampton, and Tottenham. Each club has been paid an unrevealed amount in Bitcoin for helping to promote the eToro platform.

Iqbal V. Gandham, UK managing director at eToro, says that he is really optimistic at the level of interest that top clubs have taken in blockchain technology commenting, “I do feel that within about six to twelve months we will see a player transfer in the Premier League completed using bitcoin.”

Gandham cites numerous advantages of blockchain based management and payment schemes particularly in the area of transfers, which are usually significant sums in the Premier League, suggesting that deadlines can be far more easily met with instantaneous payments, cutting out last minute delays, and transfers can be made far more transparent due to the nature of blockchain which can reveal every aspect of each transaction. International transfers would also be simplified by the use of one common currency, Gandham maintains.

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Blockchain Startup Wins Partnership Deal at British Masters Tournament

In a move benefiting levels of awareness for the entire industry, one blockchain startup has managed to secure itself as an official sponsor of the British Masters Tournament, the largest professional golf tournament in the UK.

LIFElabs joins the ranks of TaylorMade, Adidas, and Ladbrokes as a partner of the Sky Sports British Masters tournament, also making a name for itself as the first cryptocurrency firm to make such a deal with a major golf tournament.

The startup describes its ambitions as to ”demystify the world of cryptocurrency”, assisting people in utilizing the sometimes inaccessible world of blockchain technology. It also has a philanthropic edge, donating one-third of the value of each its native tokens to humanitarian endeavors.

While benefiting from the massive exposure the partnership will bring them, LIFElabs hope they can promote the use of this token and consequently the charities that it supports.

The company has also constructed a competition for competitors in the golf tournament, with the first player achieving a 222-yard hole in one receiving GBP 12,000, matched with a donation to Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens and The European Tour Foundation.

”Both LIFElabs and the British Masters are looking to make a real difference to people’s lives, both here in the UK and across the rest of the world,” Luke Chittock, the chief executive of LIFElabs shared in a press release.

The British Masters tournament begins next week and will air on Sky Sports.

Crypto meets sports

The partnership further signals the popularity of cryptocurrency in the realm of professional sport.

In particular, it has become an increasingly popular choice for football teams to launch their own tokens. Notably, Brazilian team Avaí Futebol and top French club Paris Saint-Germain both announced their own crypto token sales last month.

Sportsbook have tapped into the increasingly popular overlap between cryptocurrency and sports, offering customers the chance to place bets on sporting events using Bitcoin.


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Italian Football Champions Juventus Announce Fan Token

Football clubs announcing their fan tokens are fast making the headlines across Europe and South America, with the popular Italian club Juventus based in Turin now announcing their own token event in a press release on Monday. The move follows French champions Paris Saint-Germain’s fan token announcement two weeks ago as the footballing world is set to embrace blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

According to an announcement from the official channel of Juventus, the club is looking to launch its own fan cryptocurrency as early as the first quarter of 2019. The token will be called Juventus Official Fan Token and will look to engage millions of club supporters from around the world.

Juventus is one of the most storied club in the world and has produced legendary players the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Baggio, Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero and many others, and has recently signed Cristiano Ronaldo, the current best player in the world. It has a reported fanbase of around 60 million around the world and will look to engage a sizable portion of them through this token sale.

According to the official press release:

“At the Club we are always very careful and pro-active towards innovation and new technologies… we believe we can offer new opportunities to our worldwide fan base to engage in a cutting-edge way with their favorite club.”

The team has announced a partnership with blockchain-based fan engagement platform and will look to have more direct engagement from its loyal fanbase in the running of the club. CEO Alexandre Dreyfus was upbeat about the latest development and his company’s role in it. He claims that crypto’s potential is immense for the sports industry with over USD 300 million expected to be injected by the company into the sports economy in the coming years. It is expected that the tradeability of the new Juventus token will be limited to Socios’ native coin ChiliZ (CHZ) in its own marketplace.


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Can Blockchain Crowdfunding Solve Football’s Financial Burden?

A day doesn’t seem to pass now without the announcement of a top-flight football club’s interest in a new blockchain or crypto project, or an endorsement by a high profile player, and now more are lining up with crowdfunding in mind.

The latest to join the “club” are two more English Premier League teams, newly-promoted Cardiff City and Newcastle United, the latter promoted a season earlier. Both teams are currently in conversations with blockchain-based crowdfunding platform SportyCo. The platform is gaining some prominence now since it formed with an aim to tackle the problem of funding training and international events, faced by many athletes.

Cardiff City, currently lying 17th in England’s top-flight league, were promoted from the Championship last season with high hopes to regain a permanent standing in one of the world’s most prestigious divisions. An ICO launch through SportyCo may be an approach they take in order to gain additional funds in order to strengthen their squad in order to compete at the elevated level. They currently have a debt burden of over USD 150 million.

Newcastle United is also suffering a shortage of funds under owner British billionaire retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley. Supporters are now asking “where has all the money gone?”, with the club being unable to account for GBP 200 million from gate and sponsorship money including some USD 125 million in prize money.

Brazilian football superstar Ronaldinho has already taken the blockchain route on a personal level with his RSC coin, and others have followed, including two Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta, with a blockchain project which links players and fans.

It’s becoming clearer that there is plenty of scope for fans to form closer connections to their clubs through such projects via a rewards mechanism. For example, a practical system would reward investors as token holders with discounts for club-related purchases, such as season passes, tickets and items purchased through the club.


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It’s 2-0 as Brazilian and French Football Teams Go Crypto

With an increase in football teams and individual players taking up crypto-related products, two more clubs have picked up this current trend.

Two teams, Brazilian Avaí Futebol and top French club Paris Saint-Germain have both recently announced their own crypto token sales.

Avai Futebol Clube, currently languishing in Brazils Series B second tier, has announced plans for a USD 20 million ICO to develop a fanbase digital ecosystem in order to gain promotion to the higher Series A division. With promotion, the club would then be able to compete in the prestigious Copa Libertadores and make much-needed infrastructure modifications.

The club plans to work with SportyCo and Blackbridge Sports to sell 20.46 million tokens at USD 1 each and retain another 7% of the issue. Avaí president Francisco José Battistotti suggests that the ICO is part of a real push to get promotion and spread the club’s fanbase to a wider audience:

“With our ICO, we are actively… engaging all Avaí FC in Florianópolis and Brazil, working together towards our goal – to become a stable member of Brazil’s Série A and qualify for the Copa Libertadores… paving the way for other clubs all over the world to approach financing their sporting activities in this novel way.”

The club has set a minimum target of USD 8 million with its eyes set on a USD 20 million fundraising round, although the management suggests that funds will be returned to investors should it not make the lower figure.

The announcement follows French football giants Paris Saint-Germain’s own statement earlier this week that it was planning to form a partnership with Malta-based blockchain company to issue its own cryptocurrency. PSG have become the most famous club in French history having won a total of 38 trophies at the top level, including the EUFA Cup.

The Fan Token Offering (FTO) will allow fans with PSG tokens to vote on “cosmetic” club issues, such as awarding player prizes, choosing friendlies and choosing strip colours.


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Blockchain Facilitates Tourism at Tokyo Olympics 2020

Two Tokyo companies are looking ahead to the 2020 Olympics with a view to using blockchain technology to share data in hospitality and tourism, according to Newsweek.

The two companies, Mitsubishi Estate and tech giant Fujitsu, are working towards offering blockchain secure data sharing in hospitality outlets, including restaurants and hotels, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The hope is that the shared data, protected by blockchain’s security, will allow tourists to enjoy shorter wait times at restaurants, better hotel stays and a smoother experience traveling abroad.

Mitsubishi Estate manages 30% of buildings in Tokyo’s business district. Senior Manager Hiroyuki Okuyama pointed out that until now companies have been reticent in sharing information, due to concerns about data being leaked.

A trial is underway in Daimaruyu, a business district in Tokyo made up of three suburbs. There are about 100 buildings in the area. The area houses 16 businesses from the Fortune 500, which puts it on par with New York and London, according to Okuyama.

Construction has already begun on sports venues for the upcoming Games, and Okuyama is confident that the new technology is going to make for a better experience for visitors from all over the world, and should be fully functional before the event’s start in 2020. According to Okuyama, the collaboration with Fujitsu now allows the company to store, share and use data with confidence.

“The general user will not realize the technology behind this, whether it is blockchain or something else,” he said. “What type of tech is used is irrelevant (for the user), it should be irrelevant.”

He suggested that visitors lose valuable time at large events, such as lining up at restaurants when they should be able to immediately verify at any time how much seating is available, and alternatives if full. He commented:

“For us, we believe that people who visit the city, a comfortable and smooth stay is most important. Rather than going after that short-term return, we believe there is more we can do.”

Fujitsu senior manager Eiji Ikeda said blockchain would keep the data in the hands of the owners. “The problem with the cloud is that it is difficult to release,” Ikeda said. “With blockchain, companies can inject their data [while keeping control].”

Reports at the end of last year excited many crypto hungry Japanese, when it was announced that the Bank of Japan had backed a scheme for its own cryptocurrency to be up and running before the Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020.


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Lionel Messi Scores a Goal for Blockchain

Superstar Barcelona FC football player Lionel Messi has become the official brand ambassador for Sirin Labs, the company marketing a new smartphone called ‘Finney’ that runs on blockchain technology.

According to the BBC, the company is known for previously marketing an ultra-secure smartphone for a hefty price of $17,000, based on its ‘watertight security.’ The new device is reported to offer users, “… the first open source, secure smartphone and all-in-one PC’, that will run on a fee-less blockchain, “ now enabling investors to protect their bitcoin on their phones.

Sport is clearly beginning to look at what blockchain offers. Messi, who has expressed more than a passing interest in cryptocurrency has said previously that he has, “…been digging deeper into blockchain and decentralized systems.” Also, Spanish football club Espanyol, and ex-greats, footballers Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho, all have deals with decentralized sports investment platform, SportyCo.

Blockchain technology is under the microscope in sport at the moment. Ticketing issues and touting has always been an issue for some of the larger football clubs with enormous gates. The BBC, in its report, argues that teams like Manchester United with a stadium capacity of 75,000 would have a “logistical nightmare” keeping track of the records attached to tickets sold. Michael Broughton, who is a football business expert at Sport Investment Partners says:

“If you put your ticketing system onto the blockchain, you can verify if people attended, or who they gave their tickets to. If people want to transfer these tickets to friends or others then it has to be recorded on the blockchain.”

He suggests that sport now has this great opportunity through new technology to be at the forefront of its adoption. It can generate better revenues and enable a better service for sports-goers and fans.

Lionel Messi is not the only major sports figure to endorse a blockchain product recently. The world tennis number two, Caroline Wozniacki became an ambassador for health app, Lympo, becoming the first female athlete to follow in Messi’s footsteps.

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Danish Hockey Stadium Renamed “Bitcoin Arena” by Billionaire Sponsor

The Rungsted Seier Capital ice rink in Denmark has been officially renamed the Bitcoin Arena in a move by co-owner Lars Seier Christensen and billionaire sponsor Niklas Nikolajsen.

“We have had a good year, and you would be of no worth if you cannot look beyond your nose tip and see how to contribute a little,” said Bitcoin investor Niklas Nikolajsen, translated from Danish.

The club, Rungsted Seier Capital, in Horsholm, 25 kilometers north of Copenhagen, were playing their home games at the Saxo Bank Arena last year prior to the new changes which were introduced at the end of 2017.

The club’s star player, Nikolaj Rosenthal, is now paid his salary in Bitcoin; as of December 2017, he became the world’s first sports personality to be paid in digital currency. The club made the announcement at the end of last year:

“Top Rungsted player Nikolaj Rosenthal will pioneer the switch from traditional salary payments in Danish Kroner to become the first professional sports athlete to be paid fully and exclusively in Bitcoin, paving the way for others in- and outside of the world of professional sports to do the same.”

A collaboration with Bitcoin Suisse AG, a Swiss-based financial service provider specializing in crypto assets, extends to other initiatives with Rungsted Seier Capital, with five different competitions launched enabling fans to win prizes of 0.1 BTC. The stadium will now display a new center logo, “a massive 9-meter diameter ice-covered gold and silver Bitcoin”, Bitcoin Suisse confirmed.

Payment terminals in the stadium now enable payment in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, and the season’s ice hockey pucks have been redesigned as Bitcoins.

Denmark has long been thought of as Bitcoin-friendly. It is easy to buy and sell Bitcoin in Denmark thanks to the numerous Bitcoin exchanges that operate freely in the country. Danish government legislators have indicated that their goal is to make all retail transactions digital and remove paper money by 2030.


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