Ahead of its inaugural season opener on Saturday, Fan Controlled Football (FCF), which bills itself as the only pro sports league that lets fans call plays in real time, has announced new partnerships with Wendy’s, WHOOP, Vroom, Kinexon, Black Box VR and Schell Games.
The FCF, founded in 2017, allows fans to be in charge of their team’s decision-making process, including team branding, personnel decisions and real-time play calling. With just four teams, the season length is six weeks—four for the regular season, one playoff and a championship finale. The league plays 7-vs-7 football on a smaller field. Its games are played outside of Atlanta at the Infinite Energy Center, and fans can watch on Twitch as well as the gaming network VENN.
People with ownership stakes in the league’s four teams include rapper Quavo, NFLer Richard Sherman, YouTube personality Deestroying and WNBA retiree Renee Montgomery.
In order to keep internet humorists from telling players to make nonsensical plays for fun, fans choose from a predetermined set, similar to how video gamers choose plays in EA Sports’ Madden franchise. Moreover, the league trusts that its players, some of whom have competed in the NFL, to continue to be competitive and take the game seriously.
“We’re really giving fans the tools to support their control; from the beginning our idea was a lean-forward experience. [Fans] get to make all sorts of decisions as to what goes into gameday and what happens on gameday, but having partners that believe in that as well and support fan control is pretty exciting,” Jen Rottenberg, FCF’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview. “I think this new approach that is resonating with millennials and Gen-Z is also resonating with corporate partners.”
Wendy’s will serve as the official field-level partner. Players will have the opportunity to speak on the “Wendy’s Hot Mic,” where they can ask fans for certain play calls, trash talk or say hello to viewers. Wendy’s will also sponsor the halftime show.
“Wendy’s and our fans share a genuine passion for gaming, and we always have our eye on the next opportunity that’ll make a truly authentic connection in that space,” Jimmy Bennett, Wendy’s vice president of media, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Fan Controlled Football is a terrific fit because it brings together gaming and groundbreaking technology that gives fans the ability to call the shots.”
Like Wendy’s, WHOOP is aimed at enhancing fan control during the games. Players will wear the WHOOP Strap 3.0 fitness tracker and health monitor throughout the season. The device gives FCF the ability to track heart rate variability, resting heart rate, respiratory rate and sleep quality. Fans will use the strap to scout FCF players’ performances throughout the season.
“This partnership is grounded at the intersection of sports and technology with a focus on the future of the game,” Kristen Holmes, WHOOP’s vice president of performance science, said in a statement. “The FCF presents a platform to not only highlight the ways WHOOP can seamlessly integrate in-game for optimal player performance, but it offers a new way for fans to engage with sports through biometric data visualization.”
Vroom will serve as the exclusive digital automotive retail partner and will be integrated throughout the arenas. Players will wear Kinexon devices on their shoulder pads that will track player data. Black Box VR will equip the league with its training systems, while Schell Games will be providing the league with promotional products such as T-shirts, posters and fan giveaways.
The league will kick off on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Twitch, with players including former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel and former Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois leading their teams.