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FC Barcelona & Manchester City Both Halt Crypto Partnerships Despite Crypto-Related Sponsorships Surging in Sports

3 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • FC Barcelona has ended its NFT agreement with Ownix, a company specializing in NFT auctions.
  • Manchester City to probe new sponsor, crypto company 3Key.
  • NFTs have gained substantial traction in the business of football clubs.
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Barcelona announced via its official website that it was ending its relationship with Ownix, after less than a month of inking a deal, while Manchester City FC looks to gain insight into its new sponsor, 3Key, prompted by its lack of a digital presence.

FC Barcelona has ended its relationship with crypto company Ownix, following the arrest of a businessman named Moshe Hogeg, who had been linked to the company. Ownix’s intention was to partner with FC Barcelona to create NFTs that provide a digital certificate of authenticity of non-tangible pieces of the club’s illustrious history. Hogeg’s legal counsel has denied the allegations. Hogeg is the owner of the Israeli team Beitar Jerusalem.

The partnership was announced on Nov. 4, 2021, and sought to create NFTs around iconic photographic moments for fans, spanning the club’s 122-year history. It would have created a way for fans to “acquire and own digital assets that will reproduce unforgettable Blaugrana moments” via NFT auctions that were set to take place throughout the season. It was meant to be part of Barca’s plan to seek new forms of engagement with new generations of fans. The president of FC Barcelona has articulated how the club’s strong social media following prompted an exploration of ways to consolidate the Barcelona brand. The Ownix president previously expressed his optimism at the joint venture that would allow ownership of assets that could not previously be owned.

In other news surrounding prestigious partnerships, English Premier League Team Manchester City has onboarded as a sponsor the mysterious company 3Key, as an “official regional partner” in “decentralized finance trading analysis and advisory technology.” The company has a minimal online presence, which has prompted Manchester City’s staff to probe deeper into the company. The club has not officially engaged the company in any specific service and has temporarily suspended engagements pending their probe.

Barca’s crypto history

Barca had previously joined forces with Socios and Chiliz to launch fan tokens, for the general public. Chiliz is a blockchain fan voting startup Chiliz, while is a rewards platform. By using the digital currency $CHZ, Barca fan tokens can be bought, which allow club poll voting and the earning of rewards, according to a Twitter post released by the company in February 2020.

FC Barca plays in La Liga Santander, and La Liga recently partnered with Sorare to launch digital fan cards of players. Sorare’s vision was to combine NFT technology with sports cards to create a fantasy game.

Sorare has an impressive share of the market space it operates in, especially in the U.S. and Asia. Sorare’s deal with La Liga stretches from the first division, La Liga Santander, to the second division, La Liga Smartbank. It now has under license major global clubs, like Real Madrid FC, Liverpool FC, and FC Bayern Munich.

PSG token value boosted by Messi

Former FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi recently transferred to French club Paris St. German, who also have their own fan tokens. The fan tokens shot up 100% in price following speculation that Messi would join the club, hitting the $45 mark, and following Messi’s commencement of his tenure at the club, the price soared to $58 on Aug. 10 2021, but subsequently corrected to $48.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...