UEFA tested a blockchain-based ticket distribution system in 2018. Considering the size of the sports ticketing black market, sports organizations could soon start deploying blockchain at scale.

In 2018, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) deployed a new system to sell tickets to a UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid in Tallinn. UEFA distributed 100% of the match tickets sold to the general public through the deployment of a blockchain-based dedicated iOS and android app.

The blockchain-based ticket distribution system was combined with mobile Bluetooth devices at the stadium entrances. Thus, to get into the football grounds, fans had to use their phone app and have Bluetooth enabled. The QR code was only unveiled at the entrance of the grounds, making it harder to copy.

As per the official announcement, UEFA will continue to develop the system further, with the aim of using it at future events.

Combating ticket fraud with blockchain’s transparency features

Blockchain-based ticket distribution makes sense. Alone for UEFA EURO 2020, there are over 3 million tickets available. And that’s just one of many sports tournaments. The global sports industry is estimated to have a total market size of $500 billion, with some estimates running up to $1.3 trillion depending on the source.

But one big challenge of organizations like UEFA is ticket fraud. There is an entire black market dedicated to reselling and producing fake tickets, a practice that has plagued the sports industry for years. Thus, proving the authenticity of tickets is a top priority for UEFA.

Blockchain technology could make it possible. Using a blockchain, fraudulent tickets can immediately be tracked down and the network will reflect any resales.

The tokenization of tickets also provides a mutual benefit to service providers and football fans alike. Service providers no longer have to go through the hassle of connecting to the UEFA’s centralized ticketing system to authenticate a ticket. On the other end, football fans are at lesser risk of getting scammed or becoming victims of fraud. 

Improved service for football fans and lower operational costs for service providers

The main goal is to combat fraud, but blockchain can also make tickets more affordable, as well as the purchase processes more convenient for football fans. Blockchain-based smart contracts can automate a lot of the routine involved in buying and verifying tickets — the higher degree of automation results in lower operational costs.

Furthermore, a blockchain-based platform could then also be used to automate and streamline other services. Users could, for example, access the UEFA’s partner services to enjoy discounts on accommodation, flights, insurance, land transport, shopping, food and whatever services without signing up for an account with each service.

What else is in Store?

The 2018 event was a pilot but it could soon become an application at scale. Organizations like UEFA could greatly benefit from blockchain deployment. And selling tickets on a blockchain could work for the entire sports industry. A county cricket club in the U.K. just announced last week it would use blockchain-based ticketing for all domestic and international fixtures played at its home ground in 2020. Blockchain-based football tickets will come, it’s only a question of time.

Image: ©shutterstock