, October 02, 2023

It's the Champions League final 2100, and Neom takes on Nüwa

  •   3 min reads
It's the Champions League final 2100, and Neom takes on Nüwa

The two top clubs in the Solar System meet tonight for the final of the Champions League.

For Neom, it's now 80 years since football's great sponsor, the 115-year-old King Mohammed bin Salman, announced plans for his gleaming city in the desert to join the footballing world's elite. For Nüwa, it has been an astonishing ride. Three-quarters of a century ago, a city on Mars was just a dream, and now with its patron, the former President of Earth, the 129-year-old Elon Musk, sitting in the stands, it seeks to win the greatest prize in interplanetary sport.

Still smarting from his side's defeat in the semi-final, with me in the studio is the manager of Manchesterpool, Lionel Ronaldo, great-grandson of the two star footballers from the era when Barcelona and Real Madrid were two separate clubs.

Neom, was first conceived when bin Salam was still simply Crown Prince. The Solar System's first truly smart city from Northwestern Saudi Arabia, bordering on Egypt and Jordan, announced its footballing plans in a famously ambiguous statement in 2021.

Neal Coupland, Neom's first Sports Partnership Director, said: "Today, as we see the wonderful opportunities that exist in Saudi Arabia, sport will play yet another vital role in shaping a brighter, healthier future."

"At NEOM, we see the potential in sport to help us define the destination. As we work to bring our ambitious project to life, we have started to forge global partnerships that will enable us to achieve our objectives and reinforce our values."

The announcement came soon after the abortive effort to launch a European Super League. At the time, the league was seen as posing a threat to European club football, how ironic that the AFC Champions League (which was once thought of as Asia's poor cousin to the European tournament) forced traditional clubs to merge to meet the threat from the great sides of the 2060s, Singapore Tigers and Beijing United.

"This pioneering partnership will also integrate major AFC competitions such as AFC Champions League, AFC Asian Cup China 2023, in addition to supporting the AFC Women's Asian Cup, the AFC U23 Asian Cup and both U20 and U17 youth tournaments," said Neal Coupland 79 years ago in 2021, before we had 10G.

But maybe the story of Nüwa is even more remarkable. First described in a paper published in 2021, who would have thought that the plans for a development model of a self-sustaining city on Mars would spawn the first great football team not hailing from either Earth or the famously non-atmospheric clubs of the Moon.

Nüwa, first conceived of by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Miquel Sureda, Gisela Detrell, Alfredo Munoz,  and 23 other authors concluded that the ideas for the city "seems feasible given forecasted developments in automation."

At the time, the authors said: "The Nüwa concept is not only an urban solution for a city on Mars; it is an attempt to sketch a long-term plan for a new human society. It is a society that uses data to make decisions and applies science to understand, tame, and cherish the World. This is a society whose infrastructure emerges from air, water, rock, and light, but that is shaped by our ingenuity and our collective desire to work towards a better, more sustainable future...because if we can restart society on Mars, Earth problems can be solved too."

The concept floundered for ten years, but unbeknown to the report's authors, a reader of Techopian who read about the plan invested one dollar in a new cryptocurrency they had defined, called The South Seas Coin. The new currency, which had the strapline "For carrying-on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is!!" increased in value 88 trillion times, such that by 2030 its value exceeded the GDP of what we used to call the World, in 2020.

Fund your SpaceX holiday with a modest punt on Dogecoin says Musk

The profits from the new cryptocurrency didn't fund, Nüwa; that was down to a coterie of tech billionaires; instead, they funded the most expensive footballing transfers ever, which enabled Nüwa to buy the DNA of Pele, both Ronaldos, Messi, Maradona and Johan Cruyff.

Tune in tonight on Amazon's MGM channel to watch the CRISPR enhanced men of Neom take on the clones of Nüwa. And remember, when the Martian city moves forward into Nuam's penalty area, it will be the attack of the clones.

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