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The 2022 World Cup kicks off … in the Metaverse!

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday, with an opening ceremony featuring Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, and South Korean boy band behemoth BTS member Jungkook. Hosts Qatar kicked off the competition proper against Ecuador – it ended up being a comfortable win for Ecuador with a brace from Fenerbahçe's Enner Valencia.


The run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been subject to significant controversy. So much so that former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has called handing Qatar hosting rights a “mistake” and a “bad choice”. Major controversies have included treatment of migrant workers, a poor human rights record, persecution of LGBTQ+ people, and the country’s intense climate, which had led to the competition being held in the Winter for the very first time.


A less covered story has been football’s global governing body FIFA’s multi-year partnership with Silicon Valley-based Upland. Upland describes itself as “a property trading game paired with a decentralized economy”, where players can “buy, sell, trade and develop virtual properties that are based on real-world addresses. Blockchain technology ensures true ownership for the players. Uplanders collect in-game currency as a reward for their ownership and for the completion of Collections that group together a predefined amount of properties.”


The partnership is designed to allow “football fans from around the world to get a better understanding of Web3 and how to enjoy and benefit from a gamified metaverse experience.” The news of this new partnership comes after FIFA parted ways with American video game company and long-term partner Electronic Arts, back in May. The split, reportedly due to a dispute over how to divide up revenue, resulted in the termination of a three-decade partnership, and a video game franchise that has generated more than $20 billion over the past two decades.


Upland is currently offering players the opportunity to “own a piece of World Cup History”, by investing in official FIFA World Cup “bundles”. There are several bundles available, each of which include an assortment of different “Legits”, non-fungible token offerings (digital assets) that have been “designed to enable brands, personalities, and organizations (such as sports clubs, athletes, artists, entertainment brands and more) to extend their real-life presence into the Upland Metaverse and beyond.” Bundles include things like shirts, mascots, posters, and flags, as well as the chance to win a FIFA Pass that can be exchanged for the rarest Legits called “Mementos”. Completing collections will contribute to a user’s fan score, and those with the highest scores will win prizes, including, for example, the Lusail Stadium as virtual property in the Metaverse.


In its statement, FIFA has also announced “a portfolio of new future-focused Web 3.0 games to entertain and engage a wider group of fans ahead of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.” Along with Upland’s blockchain-based Metaverse, these include “AI League: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition”, a “4-on-4 football game, played between AI-controlled characters, with player input at fun and tactical moments”, “Matchday Challenge: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition”, a “casual social prediction game based on football cards, where the essence of the fun is derived not just from “getting it right” but by being the best among your friends”, and “FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Phygtl”,a “fan engagement mobile application that takes fandom into a new dimension.”


This isn’t the first. As themetabite.com reported back in May, when the Italian national league, Serie A, in collaboration with US blockchain software technology company ConsenSys, broadcast the AC Milan game with Fiorentina on a “Serie A Room” in the Nemesis Metaverse. A world first.


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