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FC Barcelona Reaches Milestone in Blockchain Tech Adoption, Immortalising Johan Cruyff

In June 2020, FC Barcelona released its fan token ($BAR), giving the team’s fans a tokenised share of influence on club decisions using the Socios application and services. Now the football club has taken the next step in its blockchain journey releasing the first NFT in its history.

The NFT is an audiovisual digital artwork recreating Johan Cruyff’s legendary stadium moment on 22 December 1973 when the iconic Dutch player ‘flew’ through the air to score a seminal goal against the Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Reina. The auction at Sotheby‘s, an art, luxury, and collectables broker, will be presented in a hybrid online-live auction, and will comprise the one-of-one animated edition of In a Way, Immortal, as well as an additional four NFTs that will each include a still image from the animated version, which captures an iconic moment of the legendary goal.

The high-end piece, titled In a Way, Immortal -inspired by a quote of Johan Cruyff- was produced by the club in collaboration with BCN Visuals, a strategic innovation partner and digital superstudio that developed the NFT’s cinematographic aesthetic. The buyer of this unique artwork will also be gifted a number of VIP club-based benefits and experiences and will be named a Barça Digital Ambassador.

In a Way, Immortal is the first NFT in a collection of ten works that will be presented piece-by-piece over the coming months, with each featuring iconic FC Barcelona moments and characters amplifying the club’s legacy and historical heritage. The collection is part of the club’s clear strategic commitment to adopting technology and innovation, and in turn, create unforgettable cultural moments -from the past and present- with the aim of both educating and inspiring its millennial, xennial and generation Z supporters, among others.

In addition to fostering loyalty among a younger audience, one of the project’s goals is to redefine NFTs by creating a premium experiential product into a cinematic experience. The future owner of this NFT, who will be called Barça Digital Ambassador, will also be able to enjoy unique club-based benefits and experiences such as access to training sessions.

More than 10,000 production hours

In a Way, Immortal retells Johan Cruyff’s legendary goal in poetic molten gold animation that was created by a 40-strong team of Hollywood’s most talented computer graphics (CG) and visual effects (VFX) artists. The 40-second film is accompanied by an original soundtrack played by a 30-piece orchestra, incorporating real sounds from the Camp Nou stadium and FC Barcelona supporters.

The Hollywood CG and VFX team worked on all aspects of the production, from a digital sculpture of Johan Cruyff to the simulation of golden-coloured fluids, textures and shading, cutting-edge cinematography and camera work. The production of Cruyff’s digital sculpture required more than a thousand working hours and the overall production entailed a total of more than 10,000 production hours.

100 per cent Barça experiences for the owner of the NFT

In addition to being the sole owner of the NFT, the Barça Digital Ambassador will be able to enjoy a number of ‘money can’t buy’ experiences. FC Barcelona will incorporate in the NFT’s smart contract a set of utilities such as meet and greets, visits to La Masia, hospitality rights (for a minimum of five years), the right to play at the Spotify Camp Nou and an official handover of the ball before a friendly match.

Joan Laporta, president of FC Barcelona, said: “Barça with more than 400 million followers across social networks is constantly opening new ways to connect with our fans, and we believe that with the clubs new NFT strategy we found a unique opportunity to continue growing and consolidating the Barça brand. We´re delighted to feature Johan Cruyff in our first FC Barcelona Masterpiece In a Way, Immortal, with Johan having such a huge influence on FC Barcelona as a club, but also on modern football as it is played today in general. This being captured in such an artistic way is a great form of paying tribute to Johan Cruyff, this iconic moment and to the whole legacy and historical heritage of FC Barcelona”.

Eric Sas, founder and head of innovation at BCN Visuals, commented: “NFTs have too quickly become associated with the explosion in demand for crypto, but with In a Way, Immortal we are bringing NFTs back into the realm of high art. In contrast to the basic NFT GIF, this mini-movie is a genuine piece of renaissance digital art—almost a piece of marble chiseled by the most talented visual effects artists in Hollywood. This project aims to become the new benchmark for the next evolution of NFTs where new digital artworks are akin to the masterpieces of yesteryear.”

Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s vice president, co-head of Digital Art Sales, commented: “The legend of Johan Cruyff has inspired generations of football fans for decades. To collaborate with FC Barcelona, one of the most celebrated football clubs in the world, to commemorate one of the most unforgettable moments in football history is a truly exciting moment for Sotheby’s and for the course of digital collectibles. In a way like no other, the NFT technology has not only unlocked infinite possibilities for digital artists to share their unique work but has also enabled a world-class club to immortalise an iconic sporting moment on the blockchain.”

Jordi Cruyff, added: “The NFT In a Way, Immortal will be forever linked to my father’s legacy. He would have been fascinated to see that one of his most beautiful goals with FC Barcelona has been the inspiration to create this unique piece of digital art that we hope will be enjoyed, admired and remembered forever.”

Digital innovation being seen across all aspects of the club

Vocdoni, a project building governance solutions based on decentralised technology, has announced the successful election of FC Barcelona (FCB) Supporter’s Club to the FCB Advisory Council. Known as Penyes in Catalan, these 1160 fan clubs distributed all around the globe are an integral part of the FCB, and the vote has successfully elected 30 representatives to the governance body of the club.

This election illustrates FCB’s commitment to deepening democracy within its global sporting community through technological innovation. By leveraging Vocdoni’s Open Voting Stack, FCB has granted over one thousand voters from the Supporters’ Clubs access to a decentralised voting process for the first time in the club’s history.

Marta Sancho, project manager at Vocdoni, commented “The Penyes movement has a rich history of fan inclusion. FCB has given a voice to their supporters for over a century, and now Vocdoni is bringing this process of cooperative governance into the digital age. This vote is a huge step forward for Web3 technology, bridging the gap to traditional markets via powerful use cases.”

The voter user experience was streamlined via Vocdoni’s transparent, auditable and universally verifiable technology and voting platform, which is easily accessible via mobile or desktop devices. After completing a SMS Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), voters cast their ballot utilising ‘blind signatures’ and received a proof of voting code. This process ensured that each vote had been tallied while maintaining voter anonymity.

Vocdoni’s decentralised governance solutions have been implemented, among others, by the biggest cultural association in Europe, Òmnium Cultural, the successful 14Fruites pilot ran in parallel to the 2021 Catalan elections, and the first fully digital referendum in the Spanish state. Collaborating with FCB represents a major milestone in Vocdoni’s mission to facilitate citizens’ right to participate in and influence public and private organisations with the maximum level of security and accessibility.

Author

  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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