Whilst athletic sports like football and sedentary entertainments like video gaming might seem to have little do with each other, there are growing signs that many top football clubs are getting involved in gaming.
In the past few years we have seen many high profile European football teams investing in, and setting up their own esports teams. Esports, or competitive gaming, has become hugely popular in the past decade with millions of gamers competing on first-person shooters like Counter Strike Global Offensive, battle arena titles like League of Legends, and football simulators such as EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.
Although many traditional sporting fans have been fairly sceptical about the emergence of esports, the huge revenues earned by the tournaments and the investment of many high profile brands has left top level football clubs thinking about how they can take advantage of this phenomenon.
As a result we have seen the likes of Manchester City signing their first FIFA esports player, whilst Bundesliga clubs like Schalke have gone a step further by setting up their own esports team.
It’s a remarkable how quickly attitudes have changed towards video gaming considering the activity was often criticised for promoting unhealthy lifestyles. But it seems as though the young demographic that is associated with esports is just too significant for many of the largest football clubs to ignore.
Whilst Barcelona are a football club who are not exactly short of money, even this club have jumped aboard the esports bandwagon. The Spanish football side made news when it was announced that they would be fielding their own competitive gaming team to compete in the PES2018 League competition.
Not to be outdone, the French football club, Paris Saint Germain, not only set up a team to compete in FIFA sports simulators, but they have also established a side to take part in Rocket League tournaments that featured high-powered cars booting a ball around a pitch.
“In order to understand this phenomenon, we asked the esports betting resource, https://esports.net/, what they thought and they stated that as long as esports continues to attract big money investors, then football clubs would be quick to follow.’
There’s certainly no shortage of massive firms who are investing in competitive gaming rather than traditional sports. Not only did the fast food firm, McDonalds, make the surprising choice to stop sponsoring the German Football Association in favour of the esports tournament, ESL MeisterSchaft, but we’ve seen car manufacturers like Audi enjoy sponsoring the FC Ingolstadt esports team as a result of how easy it was to shape the marketing of these competitive gaming organisations.
Above all, it’s the sheer willingness to engage with those mysterious millennials that seems to be behind this craze for esports. And with football clubs ranging from the likes of West Ham United to Celtic getting serious about video gaming, it seems as though the relationship between esports and football is only to get more intertwined.