FIFA in the Metaverse – The Future of Fandom in the Digital Realm

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In a groundbreaking move, FIFA has announced its foray into the multiverse marking an intersection of technology, sports, and imagination. They’ve created a collective virtual shared space that is created by the convergence of physical and virtual reality, redefining the fan experience and elevating the sport to new dimensions. A partnership with Meta-Stadiums and MeetKai Inc. has facilitated this Web3 experience for fans, and is a clear strategy for FIFA to move with the times, engaging younger fans, and transcending geographic boundaries to create an alternate footballing reality.

This is another milestone in FIFA’s adoption of groundbreaking online technology to add another dimension to football fandom, after the pre-World Cup rollout of a landmark Roblox experience.


What is the Metaverse?

This question still leaves many scratching their heads, and the answers to it can sometimes seem a little vague and open-ended. This is because the word ‘metaverse’ doesn’t relate to one specific piece of technology, but more to the ways we can interact with technology, and creates a space where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) combine with real-world interactions. It’s often seen as a major advancement of VR, and part of the idea of a decentralised internet, known as Web3.

However, some confusion remains due to the term’s use as a buzzword across all industry sectors — it is often used as a marketing term to announce a new technology or interface being rolled out by companies. Ultimately, the metaverse is a virtual space where any kind of interaction could potentially take place. Its most visible iteration is in online gaming, which combines social interaction with gameplay, and users represented by avatars.


How Will the FIFA Metaverse Manifest?

The Metaverse itself leaves open spaces for all sorts of outcomes for users. In terms of what FIFA will be able to offer, there are myriad options, from virtually attending real football matches, staging virtual matches and tournaments, and increased personalisation of football fandom. Here are some of the proposed and potential ways that fans can get virtually engaged.


Attending Matches

It’s tough to get tickets to matches in many of the elite games in club football. For example, smaller Premier League clubs that don’t have enormous stadiums like Old Trafford, which holds almost 75,000 spectators compared to Brentford’s 17,625 capacity G-Tech Stadium operate on a membership-loyalty-based system, and most of the seats are reserved by season ticket holders. But in the metaverse, it’s possible to enter a stadium and choose your seat to watch a match live (or pre-recorded), and even change your viewing angle as the game goes on.

Manchester City is one of the biggest teams in Europe, and is in the process of rolling out this technology, as is Real Madrid, and the practice is extended across all global elite sports.


Virtual Matches and Tournaments

Whatever sport you follow it’s the age-old argument that can never be won: prime Mike Tyson vs prime Muhammad Ali? Pele’s Brazil in 1970 or Lionel Messi’s current World Cup champs Argentina? Well, the metaverse opens up the possibility of organising clashes between iconic squads and athletes. These virtual simulations aren’t going to settle any arguments — in fact, they may well spark further debate, but fans will have the added treat of seeing these greats in action against one another. And don’t forget, there is also metaverse gambling, which makes use of blockchain integration and a token-based economy, so users can put their money where their mouths are.

It’ll also be a way to highlight the development of the sport. Training regimes, tactics, and even diet and nutrition have developed continuously over the decades, and virtual matches between iconic teams will highlight how this has affected the sport.


Avatars and Gaming Interaction

In the metaverse, users are represented by customisable avatars, which will allow fans to don their favourite team’s colours, or even resemble their heroes. We mentioned that gaming has already made good use of metaverse concepts, and FIFA offers a number of games, that allow fans to compete alongside, or against their idols in virtual matches.


The Football Ecosystem

The metaverse is a space for interactions of all sorts, and although it could foster a sense of togetherness for global football fans (or possibly provide another arena for animosity), it is also a space where virtual items can be purchased. Virtual merchandise, exclusive content, and sponsorship opportunities could boost the footballing ecosystem, and provide support to clubs and their various initiatives.

These would be previously untapped revenue streams for global football, and although there has been much cynicism over NFTs and other purchasable virtual commodities, we can expect this to be a sizable part of FIFA’s venture into the metaverse.

So, how will FIFA’s leap into the future play out? Hopefully, the FIFA metaverse will create a positive environment for fans to engage with their favourite teams and players, as well as socialise with friends and rivals. Whatever the outcome, it seems an inevitable part of the technological evolution of the beautiful game.

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