The English giants made their first moves into the area today with the signing of Kieran ‘Kez’ Brown, a FIFA pro, as rumours circulate that Sporting Lisbon may be the next club to pick up an eSports department.
With the movement of eSports to the mainstream becoming an almost daily source of headlines, it is not a surprise to see large companies trying to exploit this new market. Over the last few weeks and months, football teams such as Schalke 04 in Germany, West Ham from England and Valencia in Spain have all added eSports departments, and that continued today with the news of two more teams buying into the market.
First to announce their intentions were Manchester City, for long the poor relation to United across town but a modern giant thanks to a lot of oil money. The addition of 18-year old FIFA player Kieran ‘Kez’ Brown didn’t excite fans in the way Pep Guardiola or Leroy Sane might, but it was still significant for eSports, especially when it was followed by the announcement that one of Portugal’s biggest and oldest clubs has also made a move toward the future.
This is a natural evolution for Manchester City. . . we wanted someone with a hunger and a desire to grow. We strongly believe we have found that in Kieran. He is full of potential. Not only is he a great player, but we also believe he will engage and interact brilliantly with our fans all around the world.
Diego Gigliani, SVP, Media and Innovation, City Football Marketing
Sporting Lisbon, once home to Cristiano Ronaldo amongst others, has been the focus of many rumours today that they are seeking not only to get into FIFA, but also to pick up a League of Legends squad if possible. According to eSportsObserver, the department at the Lisbon club will be headed up by former Copenhagen Wolves Business Director Guilherme Fraga, and comes a couple of months after the first eSports television show hit the Portuguese airwaves.
The majority of the eSports crowd seem fairly happy to see large organisations across Europe dipping a toe into the electronic pond, with persistent rumours circulating around some of the biggest names, like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but this must also come with more than a hint of caution. The investment required to get into eSports is totally insignificant even to mid-level clubs like Schalke and West Ham, and it remains to be seen whether their presence is a long-term thing, or if this is just clever marketing men trying to jump aboard a gravy train.
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