Press Review - September 2022

Sports fans widely adopting the metaverse, the new Momentum Worldwide study finds

81% of sports fans would pay to watch a real-world sporting event in the metaverse, and 85% of sports fans would pay to access exclusive live experiences sponsored by brands in the metaverse that feature their favorite athletes and artists. These are the main findings of the new study conducted by the marketing agency Momentum Worldwide on sports in the Web 3.0.

The sports fans surveyed in the study were an average of 34 years old and skewed 59% male, with video games Roblox and Fortnite being the “metaverse” platforms they are most likely to have used over the past month. The NFL, Wimbledon tennis, Nike, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have all launched virtual worlds on Roblox over the past year where users can access digital merchandise for their avatars.

Concerning the metaverse’s components, the study's findings give some insight into the status quo: 52% of sports fans are familiar with virtual reality; 39% are familiar with augmented reality; 38% are familiar with an open world environment; 25% with brain computer interface technologies; 28% with blockchain.

The opportunity to make money has the sports fan intrigued and they’re not shy when it comes to dropping dollars as well. While non-sports fans are more likely to have made metaverse purchases like avatar skins, sports fans are more likely to have bought items like real estate and art - displaying their belief that the metaverse isn’t just a game, it’s a new way of life", Momentum Worldwide claims.

Roblox, the leading games platform with 200 million users, to bring FIFA into the metaverse

FIFA and Roblox announced, on October the 12th, a partnership that allows the Roblox community, as well football fans around the world, “free-to-play access to the FIFA World – a virtual environment that celebrates football.”

Creating an online space for football fans to earn rewards and collect exclusive virtual items through various skill games and multiple collectors’ challenges, this is the goal of this partnership centered around FIFA World that “will also home bespoke video content, built from FIFA+’s extensive library, alongside exciting in-game events, while Spain star Pedri and German icon Lena Oberdorf will feature within”, FIFA says.

Launched one month before the start of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, FIFA World will continue to evolve over time and adapt to celebrate the upcoming FIFA’s top tier tournaments as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

As part of our commitment to grow football and develop ways for new fans to engage with the sport, FIFA’s immersive experience will provide football fans with a hugely exciting new way to interact with friends, celebrate the rich culture and heritage around the world’s biggest sports competition, and demonstrate their creativity and national pride through various features and mechanics. FIFA believes that such a multi-layered experience will result in a truly inclusive and fun gameplay – in turn, engaging new and existing football fans from across the globe, as well as promoting the values of the sport to an even broader audience”, said Romy Gai, FIFA Chief Business Officer.

FIFA’s Club Benefits Programme’s allocation amounts to more than $200 million
in compensation for clubs with players at the FIFA World Cup 2022

On the occasion of Qatar 2022, $209 million will be distributed to clubs that have players selected for national teams taking part in the competition.

For the first time, clubs will be able to apply digitally through the FIFA Professional Football Landscape platform with approximately $10,000 to be received for each one of the days the relevant player remains with his national team during the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the official preparation period. The compensation will be paid to all clubs for which the footballer has played in the two years prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022”, FIFA indicates on October the 11th.

The Club Benefits Programme which has been launched in 2010 under an agreement between FIFA and the European Club Association, has benefited to 416 clubs from 63 member associations for the FIFA World Cup 2022 held in Russia.

Qatar Sports Investments acquires minority stake in Portugal’s Braga

Qatar Sports Investments, owner of Paris Saint-Germain (France) and KAS Eupen (Belgium), has acquired a 21.76% stake in Portuguese club Braga, the investment fund said on October the 10th. No official value has been given for this deal but Bloomberg reports that the transaction implies a €90 million valuation for SC Braga.

SC Braga is an exemplary Portuguese institution, with a prestigious history, enormous ambition, and a reputation of excellence on and off the pitch. As investors and partners, we are impatient to see the club innovate, grow and develop itself even more, through its men’s and women’s teams as well as in commercial terms and its brand, within all of the communities and companies it supports,” said Nasser Al Khelaifi, chairman of QSI. Braga are currently in third place in the Portuguese championship. The club won the Portuguese cup on three occasions.

More generally, according to Tifosy Sport & Advisory, “the multi-club ownership model can benefit owners in numerous ways, the most obvious being player scouting, acquisition and development. Through a network of clubs in different countries, each with a local technical department, owners are well positioned to spot emerging talent and use the prospect of playing for flagship clubs in major leagues to attract emerging stars.

On the commercial side, offering a multi-country partnership to sponsors and building a global brand awareness are the two main benefits of the multi-club ownership process. There are also some financial benefits such as recruiting “players inexpensively in the early part of their career rather than being at the mercy of the transfer market, the avoidance of loan fees (or at least keeping them within the group) and the management of player wages at a portfolio level”, Tifosy Sport & Advisory adds.

Saudi Public Investment Fund spends over than $2 billion on football sponsorship deals in 2022

$2.3 billion is the amount spent by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in 2022 on several new long-term football sponsorship deals, as the country continues to invest in growing its influence in sports, the Financial Times states on October the 11th.

According to the Financial Times, most of the investment comes from 20-year commercial deals that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund-owned companies Qiddiya and Jeddah Central have with some domestic football teams, including Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal. Real estate development company Roshn, which is also part of the sovereign fund’s portfolio, also recently signed a five-year contract to title sponsor the Saudi Pro League, the country’s championship.

PIF’s most high-profile football investment to date was its controversial takeover of English top-flight club Newcastle United. Since acquiring the team for around £300 million ($331.2 million), the owners have spent more than £200 million ($220.8 million) on new players, as well as appointing a new head coach and chief executive for the Premier League team”, indicates.

In addition, Noon, a Public Investment Fund (PIF)-backed online commerce platform, recently became the club’s new sleeve partner. The firm is also an official sales partner of English football champions Manchester City. The huge investment into elite sport demonstrates how PIF, which claims to have more than $600 billion in assets under management, continues to ramp up its efforts to diversify the nation’s economy beyond the hydrocarbon industry.

More recently, it has been reported that the Gulf nation is pushing to host the 2030 Fifa World Cup, leading a potential joint bid with Egypt and Greece. Beyond soccer, it has already staged several high-profile boxing bouts, a Formula One Grand Prix, and is behind the breakaway LIV Golf tour. It was also recently announced that Saudi Arabia will be hosting the 2029 Asian Winter Games, and the country appears to be setting its sights on staging a future edition of the Olympics”, adds.

Bayern Munich announces record profit for 2021-22 season

For its 2021-2022 season’s accounts, Bayern Munich reported, on October the 15th,
a pre-tax profit of €17.1 million, marking a 242% increase year-over-year.

After the €665.7 million revenues for 2021-22 season, the club is predicting a record turnover of at least €770 million for next year. Bayern also reported that its membership club - which is the largest of any football team in the world - has 295.000 members now.

The healthy financial results mean Bayern are still the only club in Germany’s top-flight football league to make a profit in all three years impacted by the Covid-19 and, alongside Spain’s Real Madrid, one of just two major European soccer clubs to record a profit throughout the pandemic-hit period”, comments.

Sensible management and not spending more than we earn has contributed to the fact that we were still able to record a small profit. We have an equity ratio of 72.3% at FC Bayern München AG, which is probably unique in world football […] We have set new records in each of the past three years. I’m very proud of all of us. We don’t spend more than we take in. That is part of our DNA. It’s amazing that despite the competitive disadvantage in terms of TV money, we put a powerful team on the field every year that all of Europe has respect for”, Jean-Christian Dreesen, Bayern’s chief financial officer says.

IOC expands mental health support for athletes

At the occasion of the World Mental Health Day on October the 10th, the International Olympic Committee has launched a new online course for athletes, focused on the importance of sleep and its impact on performance.

This course will be available on Athlete365, the IOC’s platform bringing well-being advice, services, and tool for more than 130.000 elite athletes. “For athletes competing at the highest level of their sport, sleep is a priority for optimal recovery. The IOC recognizes the need to support athletes and their entourage in knowing the signs of sleep-related problems and the impact these can have not just on an athlete’s performance, but also on their overall well-being”, the IOC says.

This online course, called “Sleep to Compete” is available for free to all members of the Athlete365 community. By completing it, the participants could learn the necessary tools and strategies to improve their “bedtime routine” as well as having input on the benefits of restorative sleep and the importance of adopting a holistic approach towards mental health.

The course is not only informative, but also offers practical techniques and strategies that athletes can incorporate into their routines straightaway. After they have completed it, athletes will continue to receive exclusive tips and advice to support positive sleep, delivered straight to their inbox.”