FC Barcelona’s President Talked About Crypto but Made Little Sense
Image courtesy of 123rf.

FC Barcelona’s President Talked About Crypto but Made Little Sense

Joan Laporta, FC Barcelona's President, recently spoke about cryptocurrency and the metaverse at the Mobile World Congress.
Neither the author, Tim Fries, nor this website, The Tokenist, provide financial advice. Please consult our website policy prior to making financial decisions.

When greedy investors see NFTs selling for millions of dollars, it’s hard to stay away from the asset class. It seems that even serious business people like Joan Laporta, president of FC Barcelona, can jump on the crypto and NFT bandwagon without doing any serious homework.

Joan Laporta’s Odd Statements On Crypto and the Metaverse

Joan Laporta, president of Football Club Barcelona, recently spoke at Mobile World Congress in the city of Catalan. Just as Chicago Bulls are a huge deal for Basketball in the US, Barca is a major soccer organization in Europe, founded all the way back in 1899. Speaking on modernizing the club, Laporta made quite an ambitious statement:

“We’re developing our own metaverse, [which is why] we rejected the chance to be associated with any cryptocurrency enterprises,”

He further went on to say that Barca will have to create its own cryptocurrency to “survive financially”. However, although it is possible that Barca could have its own dedicated blockchain division, following the footsteps of FTX.US exchange for blockchain gaming, it is more likely that Laporta doesn’t completely understand the implications of creating a dedicated blockchain like Ethereum or Bitcoin.

To illustrate, TikTok, with its massive 1.2 billion monthly active users (MAUs) and $4.6 billion revenue last year, didn’t make an in-house NFT platform. Instead, the addictive video app went to Immutable X as a turnkey solution to launch its NFTs. Moreover, Coinbase, the largest US crypto exchange, is heading to launch an NFT marketplace this year after hiring thousands of new employees to make it happen.

We don’t even need to mention Cardano (ADA) development to understand what an undertaking it is to create “our own metaverse”. One only has to take a look at Adidas and Nike, with the latter’s Nikeland metaverse on Roblox, to see that much bigger corporations than Barca are not even considering such ventures in-house, simply due to the sheer amount of groundwork involved.

How DeFi and MetaVerse Became Buzzwords

For the last two years, we have seen the emergence of two major markets that intertwine with each other, both built upon Bitcoin’s mainstreaming of digital assets. The first one is Decentralized Finance (DeFi), recreating the banking sector with its lending protocols and decentralized exchanges (DEXes), now worth about $70 billion. The second one is the NFT market, showing even more rapid growth, as it rose to $44.2 billion last year. 

Together, DeFi and NFTs are the building blocks for another market – metaverse – as the foundation for Web3. This is a new kind of internet in which users don’t just have accounts like Google or Facebook. Instead, they have non-custodial crypto wallets like MetaMask that link up with tradeable digital assets across platforms, from blockchain P2E games and DEXes to NFT marketplaces.

It is no exaggeration to say that this financial evolution is a turning point for how people view money and what it means to have ownership of digital assets. In turn, it will determine how businesses operate. Yet, it appears that some officials in charge of big organizations are rather clueless on the basics.

Laporta Makes Even Less Sense If We Dive Deeper

It is no secret that Barca is financially bleeding, which can be attributed to the Covid-19 impact partly. Laporta is well aware of this, but he mixes up cause and effect.

“We do not have big corporations or shareholders behind us. That forces us to be imaginative, innovative, brave and be a step ahead in many areas that surround the sports industry.”

If much bigger companies cannot afford to make their own blockchain platforms and assets, can a football club with no expertise in disruptive tech do the same?

Additionally, Laporta seems to conveniently forget that Barca already officially endorsed the FC Barcelona Fan Token (BAR), currently market capped at $28.4 million. However, the token’s price action is indicative of the club’s failing finances at the moment.

BAR token allows fans to participate in the club’s activities, largely nullified by C19. Image credit: CoinMarketCap.com

As one would expect, Barca didn’t “make their own cryptocurrency” in the case of BAR but tapped into Chiliz Chain, a blockchain turnkey solution similar to Immutable X.

However, the story thickens even further. Laporta has done so little homework on the blockchain ecosystem that he allowed himself to be defrauded. 

Last November, Barca entered into a contract with NFT marketplace Ownix. It was terminated the same month after it was revealed that Moshe Hogeg, who facilitated the partnership, was arrested for crypto-fraud. Moshe also had prior sex offense claims and other investor fraud lawsuits, so Laporta failed to complete even that basic homework.

Join our Telegram group and never miss a breaking digital asset story.

How Is Barca Doing Under Laporta’s Leadership?

Outside blockchain affairs, Joan Laporta came under scrutiny after Leo Messi’s departure from the club last August. Hailing from Argentina, Messi is one of the world’s most loved and talented soccer players. Laporta stated he had to let him go due to:

“To comply with the league’s fair play regulations we had to accept an agreement that mortgaged the Club’s TV right for half a century and FC Barcelona is above everything else.”

In other words, Messi was too expensive in the larger scheme of things, despite being willing to receive a 50% salary cut for the new contract. However, under the La Liga regulations, it wouldn’t be even legally possible for Messi to play for free because a new contract would have to be a minimum of 50% of a player’s previous wage. 

At the time, Barca accrued a sizable debt of $1.34 billion, losing $544.26 million in the 2020/21 season. In fact, Barca’s revenue from stadium tickets and transfers completely shrunk. Only media and commercial avenues remain afloat. 

Image credit: Statista.com

Looking at that distribution, it is then understandable why Laporta would want to boost those categories further with the club’s own NFTs and cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, it appears the club’s president is just throwing around jumbled terms he picked out from the mainstream media.

Finance is changing.
Learn how, with Five Minute Finance.
A weekly newsletter that covers the big trends in FinTech and Decentralized Finance.

Do you think Barca should implement something that has already demonstrated success, such as NBA Top Shots, created by Dapper Labs? Let us know in the comments below.