CREDIT: Fernandopascullo, Wanda-Metropolitano, CC BY-SA 4.0

Atletico Madrid recently invited a lucky group of supporters onto the pitch to play a game in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

26 supporters were handed the chance to test their skills at the Wanda Metropolitano; they got to wear the team’s jersey for the day with their names printed on the back, just like the team. They even had their names announced over the public address system, aping the experience the players get when they represent the club. Atletico legend Diego Forlan was also playing in the game, the first time he’s worn the club’s colors at the new stadium, having only previously appeared at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

How did these lucky fans get such a great experience? By being at the forefront of modern technology and owning a fan token, which the club released. After that, all they had to do was enter, like a raffle, answering a simple qualifying question and getting themselves in the draw. It is a fine example of using a digital asset to obtain real-life benefits, and it underlines the positive outcomes of the Socios product.

Atletico is not the only Spanish club to leverage fan tokens as part of its digital engagement strategy. FC Barcelona raised $1m (€980,000) last summer when they released their token, and demand was so great the provider’s website crashed. Levante, Valencia, and Sevilla have all released tokens through the Socios platform, whilst Real Madrid has investigated a different digital asset avenue and thus far resisted fan tokens.

Barcelona fans have already reaped the rewards of their fan token ownership. Marca explains how supporters were given a chance to attend a recent friendly against Real Madrid in the United States and meet new signing Raphinha after the game, just one in a long line of benefits. They also got to vote on the message in the club’s changing room at the legendary Camp Nou, whilst elsewhere in the world, clubs have voted on the design of the team bus, messages on the captain’s armband and even which artwork should be presented as a gift to a club legend. That occurred in Italy, where supporters of AC Milan were asked to design a piece of artwork for Franco Baresi; once the entries were in, they voted on the best, which was presented to Baresi by the winner.

Whilst these are strong examples of how fan engagement is increased through Socios fan tokens, the Atletico news is perhaps the perfect story to truly whet fan’s appetites for digital assets. An Atletico token cost just €2 when released, but already 26 fans have had an experience they’d likely spend hundreds on. That doesn’t mean they won’t get something again; fan tokens don’t have a shelf life, and they don’t expire. If Atletico wished to present Forlan with artwork, then those 26 who played at the Wanda Metropolitano would still be able to enter and vote. A fan token is like joining an eighties-style fan club or entering a raffle where the ticket constantly has value. If they ever tired of the club, they could sell it, and it would still have value. What’s not to love?

Indeed, the Simeone era could come to an end, just like the Estadio Vicente Calderon era did, and fan tokens would still have value and still offer benefits to supporters. Just think, next summer, it could be you having a kickabout and a selfie on the pitch with Forlan. Exciting, isn’t it?