City plan to fill the virtual Etihad Stadium several times over, allowing fans from all around the world to watch live games. With the support of virtual reality experts at Sony, Manchester City has started construction on the world’s first football stadium within the metaverse.
In a virtual reality universe, the club’s stadium will become the major hub of City thanks to image analysis and skeletal-tracking technology developed by Hawk-Eye, a subsidiary of the tech and entertainment company. City executives working on the initiative see a time when a virtual Eithad Stadium may be filled multiple times over, allowing fans who may never travel to Manchester to watch live games from the comfort of their own homes anywhere in the world. The Premier League’s digital pioneers have inked a three-year partnership with Sony, and while development on the project is still in its early stages, teams of Sony experts have already visited the Etihad to digitally map it and reproduce it in virtual reality.
What is the metaverse, and how does it work?
Participants can explore the metaverse as digital avatars, which is effectively a virtual reality version of the internet. Facebook is leading the charge to make it a reality, with the goal of creating “a set of virtual environments where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.” Visitors to these virtual areas will be able to work, play, learn, shop, create, and hang out with friends, among other things, if Facebook is successful.
Fans meeting players in the metaverse, communicating with one another, and purchasing things that aren’t available in real life are some of the other ideas being investigated. “The whole purpose of having a metaverse, in our minds, is that you can replicate a game, watch it live, be a part of the action from different perspectives, and fill the stadium as much as you want since it’s endless and completely virtual.”
City Football Group’s head marketing and fan engagement officer, Nuria Tarre, tells
“However, you have complete discretion over what you choose to watch at any given time. There is no one broadcast point of view; it can be viewed from any angle within the stadium. That’s the limit — the sky.”
The metaverse is currently accessed and explored using hand controllers and a headset. Football and virtual reality developers believe that present technology will allow a It’s not too far off,” says Andy Etches, co-founder of Rezzil, a company that has developed the metaverse game Player 22 used by Premier League clubs to train players. “We could pretty much deliver it now, although at this stage it would more likely be a computer-generated version.”duplicated in a digital version, similar to how the Fifa video game looks, but that in the future, viewers will be able to watch genuine games played in a virtual stadium.
Andy Etches, co-founder of Rezzil, a business that developed the metaverse game Player 22, which is used by Premier League clubs to educate players, thinks “it’s not too far off.” “We could pretty much deliver it right now, albeit it would most likely be a computer-generated version at this point.”
If the metaverse takes off in football, it has the potential to change the way television rights are distributed. Currently, these are sold to broadcasters asIn any case, the potential influence of these new digital worlds is enormous – and the rate of change may be extremely rapid. “I don’t think the classic idea of someone sitting on a sofa, watching a screen, is something we can imagine being the reality not even in ten years, maybe even in five years,” Tarre adds. Things move far more quickly than we realize. part of a Premier League-wide package, but clubs are now looking at the prospect of selling them individually, possibly through their own metaverses. In any case, the potential influence of these new digital worlds is enormous – and the rate of change may be extremely rapid.
“I don’t think the classic idea of someone sitting on a sofa, watching a screen, is something we can imagine being the reality not even in ten years, maybe even in five years,” Tarre adds. Things move far more quickly than we realize.
For many football fans, their first encounter with the sport is through Fifa, a video game. Then kids have fun with it [and] move on to the real game. We must be really receptive to the opportunity that this presents to future.
Critics may sneer, but the metaverse has the potential to transform football
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, you’ve probably come across the word “metaverse” at least once. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is betting big on the virtual reality world shaping our future. He sees it as the next iteration of the internet, where everyone will be able to connect by swapping flat screens for three-dimensional immersions.
No other club in the world is as invested in technology and its potential as Manchester City, which recently announced a three-year partnership with Sony. Work on creating the Etihad Stadium in the metaverse and examining how the space can be used to engage fans from all over the world is moving quickly.
And that is exactly what we are doing here: exploring new frontiers, entering into unfamiliar realms, and then building them, digital block by digital block, to shape the fabric of our future. Football is inexorably expanding beyond domestic fanbase customs.
“At most one percent of our supporters will ever come to Manchester to experience a game,” Tarre says.
The most enticing idea is that, in the future, fans will be able to watch games live in a virtual stadium from the comfort of their own homes, almost as if they were there in person. It’s still a vision, not a guarantee, and would necessitate a massive reorganization of how football television rights are divided. Currently, the Premier League sells the rights to broadcasters collectively, but teams are increasingly looking at the possibility of owning their own, packaging and selling them as they see fit.
Manchester City and Sony, on the other hand, are looking at how fans can meet in the metaverse, how they will engage, what they would like to do, how long they will spend there, and if there is an appetite to buy virtual items that only exist in a virtual environment.
Of course, this is geared at a younger demographic: the next generation of football enthusiasts. And it’s not about duplicating the original. “We still want people to meet one another!” said the group. Tarre explains. “And I believe that this is the allure of live events and stadium crowds. We’ve seen that when supporters aren’t in the stadium [due to Covid], the experience isn’t the same; you practically have to fake the sound to keep it entertaining. It’s a balance of both elements, I believe, that makes it intriguing.”