FIFA World, beyond the confines of reality

FIFA is evolving and carrying on its 3.0 revolution by launching #FIFAWorld. By opening a new playground on Roblox, shortly before the World Cup in Qatar 2022, FIFA confirms its willingness to renew itself through a new positioning. The arrival in the metaverse is the last stage of a journey that aims to make football attractive for Generation Z thanks to an omnichannel strategy and through a new and more targeted customer experience for this audience, in search of new benchmarks.

Sport has a head start in exploring opportunities in this area. Thanks to the existence of communities of supporters and supporters, strengthened by fan engagement initiatives, clubs and federations already have what it takes to use the activation and monetization levers in this new universe. The Qatar 2022 World Cup, which will inflame the international football scene from 20 November, will go down in history through the massive use of technology for the benefit of the fans. Both on the field with the enhancement of sports performance, and at a promotional and marketing level.

Technology and gaming

This World Cup is decidedly technological. Several innovations are emerging during this global event. For the first time in football history, referees have even more support to produce the best refereeing possible and thus minimize the possibility of on-pitch controversy, such as “semi-automatic” offsides in addition to Goal Line Technology and VARO. Thanks to 12 cameras positioned under the roof of the stadiums, all the players are stably positioned on the pitch thanks to a follow-up of 29 points of their body and therefore potentially influential on offside. All this data is centralized in an operations room and updated about 50 times a second, to which the data coming from the balls through the IMU sensor developed by adidas and sending 500 data per second to the control centre. In this way it is easier to identify the exact moment in which the ball is kicked to mark the offside line, taking as a reference the point of the body closest to the goal. Artificial Intelligence links data from cameras to track players and from the ball sensor to generate automatic alerts to be sent to referees whenever an offside situation occurs, although the final decision still rests with the referee.

And all these technologies are currently adopted only on the largest international stages given the amount of resources to be used. However, the road is marked and it is expected that in the medium term fewer cameras will be enough to do the same job and make the offside, a debate based on data and no longer on interpretation, leaving more room for match officials to evaluate the dynamics of the field and less excuses for players, coaches and fans to challenge the work of the referees.

If to this we add data visualization as a new element of sports storytelling in order to improve the sports experience, presenting in-depth information to the public and above all through data visualization models using technologies such as augmented reality but also for media professionals who can use it to provide new comments and new ideas for events.

FIFA in the metaverse and omnichannel

The metaverse is a concept widely explored by the world of sport in recent months, especially in terms of Fan Engagement, and FIFA could not fail to take advantage of an opportunity like the World Cup to embark on this new path towards fans from all over the world . In the wake of what UEFA has already done with Women’s EURO 2022, FIFA has chosen the Roblox platform to create its own FIFA World virtual pitch. A choice that confirms the will to involve GenZ and following in the world of football to broaden the enthusiasm for a sport that in recent years has had to overturn its content strategy to continue to attract a younger audience. The choice of the American Roblox platform is not trivial. With a large share of users aged between 9 and 13 and covering around 70% of the total audience of the platform, FIFA World is in the top 10 most popular and explored terrains on Roblox with a percentage of around 50% of players between 17 and 13 years old. 24 years. The FIFA project, however, has a more ambitious vision than the UEFA women’s Euro project. FIFA World is not a thematic space created exclusively for the World Cup, but rather a universe around FIFA that is expected to perpetuate after this event, becoming a strategic contact point to keep attention on all that international football offers and will offer as the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

FIFA thus continues its digital revolution by developing an integrated business model and transforming itself into a media company which led to the creation of the FIFA+ OTT platform in the first half of 2022, followed by the announcement of the launch of FIFA+ Collect, the first NFT collection in collaboration with Algorand on the subject of the World Cup but also at the end of his collaboration with Electronic Arts after almost thirty years of success around the FIFA simulation game. FIFA23 was the last title of this soccer game, because EA and FIFA didn’t reach an agreement to renew the image rights, EA didn’t want to give FIFA more control over the image management of the game.

Football is not just a (simulation) game.

The partnership entered into with Roblox is broader than the simple football simulation we’ve been used to since the first video games and is part of a universe where around 50 million users meet every day for non-exclusively recreational purposes. In FIFA World, football is just the common thread of an experience that branches off in different directions, encouraging a sense of community and creating new opportunities for partners. Spaces dedicated to socializing and events alternate with mini-games and activities aimed at collecting or purchasing virtual collectibles. In this way, new sources of income are activated through the release of skins and digital assets to be equipped on one’s avatars, even in limited editions, taking advantage of the hyper-personalization of experience and rarity. It also offers even more activations for sponsors who take over this ground, such as adidas.

The monetization of partner activities is an important driver of the Roblox platform entry strategy because it makes the presence of a brand consistent with the context, thus generating value that is considered an asset to be seriously considered in the negotiation phase of future partnership agreements. FIFA World is also a place to enjoy tailored content, using exclusive material found in FIFA+, and experience being guided on the pitch by star ambassadors such as Barcelona’s Spanish star Pedro González López, better known as Pedri , and German soccer player Lena Oberdorf.

FIFA’s new plans for NBA-style community-focused model

In FIFA’s projects, football is just a pretext for a strategy that projects the federation towards a global dimension, more like a company than a regulatory body for a sporting discipline. The FIFA brand is too strong not to exploit it in its entirety and the president Gianni Infantino is leading its transformation by bringing into the federal perimeter activities that exploit the popularity of the most followed sport in the world to generate new sources of income. The metaverse in which FIFA is developing is a concept that summarizes the extent of the Federation’s activity and embodies a series of actions aimed at bringing the brand to different targets, sharing experiences and emotions and further expanding the fan base. It is a question of going beyond the concept of football only as a sport and taking it to the next level, treasuring what the NBA has been able to do with basketball over the years, but with the strength of a more widespread territorial community – the world – and a even more fanatic audience.

FIFA: Global brand with an omnichannel approach

The repositioning of the FIFA brand is a prime example of the possibilities offered by the transformation of web 3.0 for brands. If the value of data is to be considered the new Eldorado of the global economy, companies and institutions in the sports sector are faced with unique opportunities. Users’ distrust of consent to the tracking of their data is reduced in the presence of the passion and feeling of belonging that sport is able to convey. The metaverse is a growing market, but one that has already revealed the importance of focusing on experiences rather than products, and in this area sport is in a playground of its own.

Fabio Lalli (with the collaboration of Aurélie Lienhart)

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