Italian football club Rimini – which plays in the Italian Serie C division – is the first football team to be purchased with bitcoin. The purchase was made by Heritage Sports Holdings (HSH), a sports investment company based in the United Arab Emirates. Representatives used cryptocurrency to acquire roughly 25 percent of the team’s shares.
The announcement came by way of Rimini’s president Giorgio Grassi. In a press release, he states:
“Negotiations with this group have been ongoing for a couple of months. Heritage Sports Holdings, with its partner Quantocoin, will try to bring to the team and to the city new ideas and synergies from the sporting, brand image and technological point of views. Heritage Sports Holdings’ participation is innovative in view of its crypto payment system and its use of blockchain technology.”
A Little Background
HSH was founded in 2013. The company operates as both a facilitator in football teams’ acquisitions and as a direct investor in ventures related to football in both Asian and European countries. Other clubs owned by HSH include Union Deportiva Los Barrios, a Spanish football sixth division team, and Mantova football in Italy. HSH also owns Gibraltar United, one of the first football clubs to pay part of its players’ wages in digital currency.
Rimini is an old club with a troubled history. The organization filed bankruptcy in 2006 after playing Juventus at Stadio Romeo Neri – a highly anticipated match that left both teams in a disappointing tie of one to one. The group later faced several problems, including the respective exits of several board members, which led to Rimini vanishing from the playing field and being re-founded three times.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
The league is now back on the board through promotion from Serie D, and HSH is the first company to purchase a football team using cryptocurrency. Grassi exclaims:
“This acquisition will enter the history of football, bringing a very important resonance to the city of Rimini. In recent weeks, Heritage Sports Holdings has shown great interest in the Rimini brand and in our innovative approach to football. The new members appreciated the transparency of Rimini F.C., its economic sustainability, its territoriality, its commitment to the world of solidarity, and the critical mass that our world expresses with all its affiliated companies.”
Sports and Crypto: The Perfect Combo
This isn’t the only time sports and cryptocurrency have joined hands, nor is football the only game to enter the digital asset space. Last July, Major League Baseball (MLB) launched what’s known as “MLB Crypto Baseball,” a trading game in which players buy, sell and trade avatars tied to specific players and moments in MLB history.
Financial reporter Daniel Roberts reports:
“In MLB Crypto Baseball, users will pay in to buy digital avatars tied to specific moments in recent games. They can then sell the items, or in some cases, earn rewards and stickers. The game is a decentralized app, or DApp.”
Crypto at the Hoop
Basketball has also welcomed cryptocurrency through the Sacramento Kings. The group became the first official basketball team to mine Ethereum last June. In addition, the Kings were the first sports team in the world to accept bitcoin in 2014 according to a report issued by ESPN.
Chief technology officer for the team Ryan Montoya explained:
“We have always pushed the envelope when it comes to innovation. We were the first team to utilize Twitter, to utilize Google Glass for home games, and drone technology, but it wasn’t until we opened our arena, the Golden 1 Center, that fans and the NBA saw how we could utilize technology and innovation, making it a core component of our business.”