Barcelona want their own cryptocurrency to challenge football's elite - president Joan Laporta

Barca surges into 4th place after blanking Athletic Bilbao (1:59)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele, Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay score to lift Barcelona to a comfortable 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. (1:59)

Barcelona want to create their own cryptocurrency to help them "survive financially" against clubs owned by big corporations and foreign investors, president Joan Laporta has said.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in the Catalan city this week, Laporta said Barca will launch a range of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) in the near future and are also working on entering the cryptocurrency market.

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Barca have turned down numerous offers to partner with cryptocurrency companies because they want to focus on developing their own digital currency in-house.

"We're developing our own metaverse, [which is why] we rejected the chance to be associated with any cryptocurrency enterprises," Laporta said as part of a wider presentation.

"We want to create our own cryptocurrency and we have to do that ourselves. We are different because we survive financially from what we can generate through the industry of sport.

"We do not have big corporations or shareholders behind us. That forces us to be imaginative, innovative, brave and be a step ahead in many areas that surround the sports industry."

Laporta added that the club hope to present their first range of NFTs soon as part of a project that will "help the club's finances.

"It's something we can share with our fans around the world -- around 300 million of them," he said. "I could announce something else, but I have to be prudent because it's confidential still.

"The players know what we're working on, that this is a modern club that makes use of new media. There are clauses in their contracts related to the NFT world and the metaverse."

In November, Barca cancelled a contract with Ownix, the NFT token marketplace which had only become one of the club's digital partners that same month.

Per multiple reports, the contract was ended following the arrest of Moshe Hogeg, who was acting as an advisor for the partnership, on charges of cryptocurrency-based fraud.

"In light of information received today that goes against the club's values, FC Barcelona hereby communicate the cancellation of the contract to create and market NFT digital assets with Ownix with immediate effect," Barca said in a statement at the time.

Sources told ESPN that Barca have since turned down further offers from other companies related to cryptocurrency to sponsor the club's shirt. Talks are ongoing with Spotify to replace Rakuten as the club's main partner this summer.

On sporting issues, Laporta also said that he hopes forward Ousmane Dembele decides to stay at the club beyond the expiration of his contract in June.

Dembele, 24, was told to leave the club in June after refusing to sign a new deal, but coach Xavi Hernandez has brought him back into the side in recent weeks, with the forward scoring one and setting up two in Sunday's 4-0 win against Athletic Bilbao.

"He knows what our proposal is and that we have always wanted him to stay," Laporta said. "I hope he reconsiders his decision to renew at the end of the season."

The comments represent a change of direction from Laporta, who at the start of February suggested he was against Dembele playing for the club again and insinuating that he believed the winger had already reached an agreement to join another club for free in the summer.