UEFA Rolls Out Blockchain Tech During Madrid Super Cup Final

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Blockchain technology was implemented for the UEFA Super Cup Final match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, as European football’s governing body attempts to combat the illegal duplication of tickets.

In the hours leading up to the Super Cup final on August 15th fans filtering into the stadium who had bought their tickets online, could gain entry to the match merely by presenting a barcode on their phone, generated by UEFA’s dedicated app and transferred via BlueTooth.

Blockchain tech was employed in the initial online distribution of the tickets as a way to secure the digital existence of each individual ticket. Details are scarce, but according to the press release published on Thursday on UEFA’s official website, the move was made in a bid to cut out the practice of duplicating or replicating fake tickets:

“UEFA is looking to make its ticket sales process for matches more simple and safe – thanks to a new system aimed at providing secure ticket distribution, and which prevents the replication and duplication of tickets.”

The plan was put into action on Wednesday night, with 100% of the tickets for the event being sold through the blockchain-BlueTooth combination – a first within the European footballing world. As per the press release:

“For this week’s UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid in Tallinn, a new system was fully deployed whereby UEFA distributed 100% of the match tickets sold to the general public through the deployment of a blockchain-based dedicated iOS and android app.”

A History of Blockchain Flirtation

This isn’t the first time the two seemingly disparate worlds of football and blockchain have joined forces. As detailed here not long ago, footballers are fast becoming the go-to ambassador, or PR figure, for upstart crypto and blockchain projects.

And while this is the first time UEFA have sold 100% of their tickets via the new system, it’s not the first time they’ve flirted with blockchain. A test-run of the system was introduced for the 2018 UEFA Europa League final match between Atletico Madrid and Marseille.

The system was then tweaked in the run up to Wednesday’s Super Cup final, where the 100% rollout must be judged an ultimate success. As the release details:

“Fine-tuning and improvements took place at several test events, and the system was first used for 50% of the tickets distributed to the general public for the 2018 UEFA Europa League final between Atlético and Marseille in Lyon. Following the successful implementation of the new system for the Lyon final, UEFA was able to increase the distribution system to all of the general public acquiring tickets for this year’s UEFA Super Cup match in Estonia.”

Blockchain Future

The mainstream media attention was fully focused on the match on Wednesday night, with Atletico surprising their richer Madrid neighbours in a 4-2 win. But the forward-thinking, technological moves being made behind the scenes could prove to leave a longer-lasting impact.

The move by the Union of European Football Associations could be interpreted as a strong indicator of the scope for blockchain adoption, even in industries we might not have expected it to take hold.

With that said, any kind of large, complex data-flow system can ultimately benefit from the blockchain, regardless of the industry it’s tied to. The production of fake tickets, spanning a multitude of sports both in America and in Europe, is a venture estimated to cost fans millions every year.

The implementation of blockchain technology is apt, and apparently effective. As UEFA themselves say:

“We [UEFA] will continue to develop the system further, with the aim of using it at future events.”

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