Atletico Madrid has recently raised the bar in fan engagement by allowing supporters to play on their hallowed turf at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.
In a groundbreaking move, 26 supporters got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to emulate their heroes. According to Marca, their chance to play at the Wanda Metropolitano didn’t come from the club programme or official website; it came through ownership of a digital asset called a fan token.
The only requirement to going into the draw was owning a Socios fan token and answering a simple question. Once those requirements were satisfied, there was every chance to play at the home of the 2020/21 La Liga champions. Not only that, the experience went further than a simple kickabout. The winners got to wear the kit for the day, have their names announced over the public address system, and even printed on the back of the shirt. If that wasn’t enough, Atletico legend Diego Forlan also took to the field the first time he wore the kit at the new stadium, having only played at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Atletico wasn’t the only team offering their fans this experience; it is just a strong example of how fan tokens deliver tangible benefits to supporters that other forms of digital assets do not. For example, NFT releases by clubs have not always been a success. ESPL Daily explain how the English team Liverpool saw their NFT release flop earlier this year, as fans didn’t seem to gel with the idea of buying a digital image. However, a fungible token with monetary value and real-world benefits seems to hit the mark, especially for the 26 fans who got to wear Atletico’s colours.
Other big clubs in Spain have been reaping the benefits of fan tokens. They don’t just bring supporters closer to the club and make them feel involved; there’s a financial benefit for the clubs. In June 2022, Barcelona raised $1m (€980,000) in a single day with their fan token release. The initial price of a single token was $2 (€1.96), which was so popular that the provider’s website was temporarily out of action as demand caused a crash.
The first thing Barcelona fans got to vote on was the design of the club’s changing room, and since then, other big clubs have had similar polls and votes. In England, Arsenal fans could vote on which kit the team wore in a game away at Southampton; their away kit or third kit. In Turkey, supporters voted on the design for the team coach, whilst AC Milan conducted a competition through their fan token. Supporters were asked to design a piece of artwork honouring the legendary Franco Baresi and then vote on which was best. The winning piece was then presented to Baresi by the winner, another money-can’t-buy experience.
These are great examples of how fan tokens are becoming popular in fan engagement circles, but they’re all dwarfed by playing an actual game on the precious turf of the Wanda Metropolitano. With a capacity of 68,456, it has seen Atletico not only win La Liga but also finish second twice and third twice. It’s one of the finest venues in Europe and one 26 fans have played on, thanks to digital assets.
Where will they take supporters next?