Skip to main content

Integration of eSports in the structure of Ifs: disruption or continuity?

Abstract

With increasing popularity and growing financial stakes, the gaming industry caught the attention of the international sporting community, notably to know whether eSports would be suited to integrate the already existing structures of International Federations (“IFs") and whether competitive video gaming could incorporate medal events, such as the Olympics. On 8 December 2018, through its “Communique of the 7th Olympic Summit”, the IOC considered premature the inclusion of eSports as medal event on the Olympic program. However, it did recognize their importance and encouraged IFs to consider the benefits of integrating the “electronic and virtual” version of their sports within their structure. With the continued professionalization of the FIFA eWorld Cup, notably with the offering of a USD 400,000 prize for the winner of the eWorld Cup Grand Final 2018, FIFA introduced for the first time integrity and Anti-Doping standards for said tournament. Specifically, pre-match betting activities were monitored and Anti-Doping tests were conducted on the participants of the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018. As such, FIFA required from the participants and coaches of the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 to comply with an adequate yet already established regulatory framework. Indeed, all participants were required to accept FIFA’s regulations and give jurisdiction to its judicial bodies, notably the FIFA Ethics and Disciplinary Committees. By doing so, FIFA has paved the way for other IFs to integrate eSports in their structures. The most important question that remains, which will determine the future of eSports as a potential new discipline, is whether such a favourable environment will cause video game producers and IFs to seize this business opportunity and create innovative synergies between themselves. With the present paper, the author will identify some of the current legal issues surrounding the integration of eSports into already existing sporting structures.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Availability of data and material

Not applicable.

Notes

  1. Fortnite World Cup has handed out $30 million in prizes, and cemented its spot in the culture, Shieber J, https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/28/fortnite-world-cup-has-handed-out-30-million-in-prizes-and-cemented-its-spot-in-the-culture/.

  2. This eSports giant draws in more viewers than the Super Bowl, and it is expected to get even bigger, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/14/league-of-legends-gets-more-viewers-than-super-bowlwhats-coming-next.html.

  3. eSports is business, Scholz T, p. 20.

  4. Tennis for two was run on an analog computer, whereas video games as we know them are run on digital computers. In overly simplified terms, analog computers process analog data, which continuously varies, and digital computers process binary data. For a more in-depth definition, please see www.britannica.com/technology/analog-computer.

  5. eSports is business, Scholz T, p. 20.

  6. Ibid., p. 20.

  7. Olympic.org, Communique of the 7th Olympic Summit, https://www.olympic.org/news/communique-of-the-7th-olympic-summit.

  8. www.eurogamer.net/articles/oga.

  9. Basketball Einstein, Gregory S, Time Magazine, 17 June 2013.

  10. https://www.easports.com/fr/fifa/ultimate-team/compete/player-profiles/aldossary-msdossary7-mossad.

  11. https://gaisf.sport/members/

  12. Please see below the section on the integration into federations.

  13. Whitepaper, eSports news, score, statistics and match analysis, eSports.com, p. 10.

  14. eSports is business, Scholz T, p.p. 45–86.

  15. https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-and-gaisf-to-host-esports-forum.

  16. https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/.

  17. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/04-10-2019-who-and-fifa-team-up-for-health.

  18. Please refer to the developments below on FIFA’s position regarding eFootball.

  19. See, for instance, the Starcraft case in Korea, the first match-fixing incident of this magnitude concerning video games. https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/05/117_65996.html.

  20. The WADA list of prohibited substances comprises a “Prohibited in Particular Sports” section which could well be applicable to eSports, given the similarities with the other listed disciplines (e.g. archery, darts). Please see. https://www.wada-ama.org/en/content/what-is-prohibited/prohibited-in-particular-sports.

  21. FIBA, the International Basketball Federation founded in 1932, is not mentioned in the National Basketball Association Constitution and By-Laws, September 2019. https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2019/09/NBA-Constitution-By-Laws-September-2019-1.pdf.

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to Audrey Cech, a brilliant sports lawyer, for her contribution to the article.

I would also like to extend my appreciation and thanks to my supervisor, Carlos Schneider, Head of Disciplinary and Ethics at FIFA, for supporting this initiative. Carlos’ input has always been valuable.

Funding

Not applicable.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cedrick Aghey.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author is currently employed by FIFA. The views expressed in the article are personal.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Aghey, C. Integration of eSports in the structure of Ifs: disruption or continuity?. Int Sports Law J 20, 120–125 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40318-020-00175-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40318-020-00175-7

Keywords

  • eSports
  • eFootball
  • Gaming
  • Doping
  • Match-fixing
  • FIFA