The first winter (and sober) football World Cup is nearly over and it will be another four years before we see its like again, thankfully in the summer (and drunk).
When the tournament was risibly awarded to Qatar more than a decade ago, it was difficult to imagine the World Cup being played in the Middle East in high temperatures and air-conditioned stadia.
A lot can change in a decade and time flies at its relative speed, what was abnormal is now mainstream… and so it goes.
What the next World Cup will be like nobody knows except that in 2026 it will be held in three countries; Canada, Mexico and the US and football is changing big-time.
Thanks to this year’s winning finalist Lionel Messi and Portugeuse loser Ronaldo, fans are now supporting players rather than the teams of countries and that trend is likely to accelerate over the next four years.
According to FIFA there are five billion football fans around the world. The club game is currently European-centric with the best players in the best leagues. This means fans in China or Argentina and other places far from Europe are unlikely to ever visit the home ground of their favourite European teams.
Metaverses can give this ‘home ground feeling’ to fans via digital twin stadiums and cities via Web3.
Moreover, technology is also changing international football and it’s easy to predict that the run-up to the World Cup 2026 will be all about the football metaverses and the NFTs that will be part of them.
Its going to be impossible to see all the matches because they will be thousands of miles apart in Mexico, Canada and the USA, but fans could go to any of them virtually via a digital twin stadium.
One such company that has kicked off (so to speak) its activity in this huge metaverse play is Group Sport that is selling passes to their Ownership Experience of top tier football clubs in Europe.
Not only can passholders get into and watch games in real life, they can buy shirts, attend special events, but most importantly they also get access to the Group Sport Metaverse.
The company is building ‘digital twins’ of the stadiums and the cities of the teams in their network.
In this metaverse fans can attend games, meet fellow fans (even their favourite players), explore the city, shop, and buy their own virtual home where they will be able to buy and hang the original NFT art that comes with their pass, and meet with the friends they made at the game. So fans can visit their club’s home ground, even if they live on the other side of the planet.
There will be six levels of the Group Sport NFT: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Plus.
Depending on which level, stakeholders will be able to buy discounted tickets, the metaverse and events, all the way up to travel with the team and an annual banquet, plus one of five original paintings commissioned by Group Sport from renowned artist and official artist of the London Olympics, Jeffrey Kroll.
Group Sport says it is also the world’s first professional sports DAO. Through the DAO, it merges in-real-life team gameplay with the metaverse. Members of the DAO naturally have voting rights, so their decisions can have real impact on the club chosen.
“The World Cup has shone even more attention on the international future of football. We own professional teams in Europe and plan to add more clubs for our community. We believe granting access to sporting events is the future of NFTs.
“Moreover, by being a DAO, fans can have a direct impact on the direction of their teams, either in real life or the metaverse,” said Tim Roberts, President and Co-founder Group Sport.
For those of us who would prefer every World Cup to be in Mexico and to feature Pele and Bobby Moore every time, change is sometimes hard to handle and football fans are the most traditional of all.
But in a rapidly changing world where attention focuses on individuals and influence, football fans are likely to flood to the metaverse because football fans love status and that’s what the metaverse offers; the chance to be a real part of the team.
Monty Munford is a tech journalist and advises companies on growth and visibility. In the past decade his consultancy has helped more than 40 companies raise money/exit for a total of £1.4 billion.
Munford was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC, The Economist and… City AM.
He is also a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer and has spoken at more than 200 global events interviewing figures such as Tim Draper, the late John McAfee, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak (twice in Beirut and Vienna), Kim Kardashian (once in Armenia), Amitabh Bachchan, Ghostface Killah, ZZ Top, Guns N’ Roses and many others.