Web3 Is Heading to the World Cup

Virtual lounges for your avatar to watch a livestream of the game? Web3 doesn’t get more meta than the mind-bending plans for the World Cup in Qatar.

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For those who need more futbol than they can get in 90-minute games, the 2022 World Cup is heading into Web3. Non-fungible token-powered trading games, branded NFT collections and metaverse worlds – even one where your virtual self can watch streaming games within a metaverse lounge – are just a few of the ways to enjoy the Web3/World Cup mashup.

The World Cup even has an official crypto exchange sponsor – Crypto.com – and it’s just one of several decentralized tie-ins for the World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar in November.

FIFA+ Collect

The World Cup is officially run by the International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA, which up until the end of the year is also the partner of the PlayStation games by the same name. In September, FIFA launched its own NFT platform on the Algorand blockchain – and it’s coming to the World Cup, too.

FIFA’s trading card game is a little like NBA Top Shot, the collectibles platform that was one of the earliest drivers of NFT mania at the start of 2021. Similar to that game, FIFA+ Collect has traders collect memorable sporting moments from the history of the game. Think of it as a virtual trading card game powered by NFTs.

It’s already possible to buy World Cup-themed packs of NFTs. The Drop 2: FIFA Archives Packs, at $4.99 each, contain highlights from old World Cup games, both those played by men and women. The cards contain pictures and exclusive artwork.

The packs “democratiz[e] the ability to own a part of the Fifa World Cup,” said FIFA Chief Business Officer Romy Gai in a statement. “Just like sports memorabilia and stickers, this is an accessible opportunity for fans around the world to engage with their favorite players, moments and more on new platforms,” he added.

Algorand became FIFA’s official blockchain partner in May. Algorand is a regional supporter of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for North America and Europe. The blockchain is also an official sponsor of the Women’s World Cup, which begins next year in Australia and New Zealand.

Africa Village

Africa Village is a mini festival bolted onto the FIFA World Cup on the field in Qatar and online. It’s working with the African wing of the United Nations Development Program, plus the Centre for Development Intelligence, to bring African metaverse content to the World Cup.

The in-person component comprises a lounge in Hotel Park and six days of live music. The lounge and associated events function as “an inclusive global event for everyone who is a soccer fan and interested in African culture,” says Hashmel Osuman, the founder of Incredible Spaces, which is managing the online component.

The online part involves selling NFTs featuring African soccer stars. The collection will drop with the launch of the World Cup. Why bring NFTs to the World Cup? It’s simple, Osuman told CoinDesk: “The World Cup is one of the most watched events on the planet,” and eyeballs could mean big business, even for those who can’t travel to Doha.

Budverse x FIFA World Cup

Put on your beer goggles and enter the Budverse, where anyone old enough to buy a drink can mint an NFT updated by the scores of the latest game. The NFT represents the holder’s chosen country and follows the team’s progress throughout the competition. Holders also enter a competition to win tickets to the World Cup finals, plus a football kit. Budweiser developed the World Cup collection in partnership with serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s Vayner3 Web3 consultancy, and launched it on Oct. 13.

The World Cup NFTs are the latest addition to the Budverse; previous entrants included a collection of heritage beer cans and a “royalty” collection that lets holders support one of 22 Budweiser-sponsored artists. The tracker NFTs cost $100 to mint, although holders of the can collection can mint one of the World Cup tracker NFTs for free.

FIFA World

Time to sober up, boot up the computer and head to child-friendly Roblox, where FIFA will supply its own metaverse within the immensely popular block-based sandbox game.

Once inside, players have access to minigames such as Adventure Football, a kind of crazy golf game that replaces clubs with the LEGO-looking men from Roblox, and Adidas Footbowling, which accomplishes a similar feat with 10 pins.

Only the bravest will attempt the FIFA World Obstacle Course or the VISA sticker shop. But they must, in order to receive exclusive rewards and to “interact” with FIFA World Cup mascots – who could include Spanish midfielder Pedri and German midfielder Lena Oberdorf.

The metaverse, which has no notable crypto component, also includes a live-streaming lounge in which the block-headed can watch games together. This is one example of how Web3 creates virtual inclusivity, Gai said, as well as gameplay.


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Robert Stevens

Robert Stevens is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, the Associated Press, the New York Times and Decrypt.

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