IOC rows back on esports inclusion

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has released a statement describing discussion about the inclusion of esports as a medal event on the Olympic programme as "premature." 

It cites "uncertainties" in the development of the sector, noting specifically that "the [esports] industry is fragmented in nature, with tough competition between commercial operators."

The statement continues: "The [esports] industry is commercially driven, while on the other hand the sports movement is values-based.

Fanatics makes esports entry

Global sports merchandising specialist Fanatics has made its first foray into esports, signing a major multi-year partnership with the Overwatch League.

The agreement will come into effect ahead of the 2019 Overwatch League season, which gets underway on 14th February. It represents a first-of-its-kind partnership between a major retailer and an official esports league.

The deal gives Fanatics international rights to produce Overwatch League jerseys, fan gear, headwear and hard goods across all retail and wholesale channels.

Unibet in landmark esports deal

Unibet has agreed a milestone betting partnership with leading esports organisation Astralis.

The two-year global deal will give the Kindred Group brand access to the image rights of the Astralis Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team.

As Astralis’ ‘Official Betting Partner’, betting firm Unibet plans to work to further drive interest around esports among its key audiences.

The firm will benefit from exclusive content about Astralis, CS:GO and esports in general.

UEFA and EA Sports to launch eChampions League

UEFA and EA Sports, publisher of the FIFA 19 game, have revealed plans to launch an eChampions League, described as “a pivotal tournament expansion to the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series.”

It follows the launch of the ePremier League, which will also be played on the FIFA title next year, and adds to the growing list of global events and competitions on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 next summer. 

FIFA 19 adds esports pro teams

EA Sports has announced 13 partnerships with professional esports organisations that will see the teams’ official jerseys available as playable kits in EA’s FIFA 19 game.

Among the major international teams to sign on for 2019 are Team Vitality, Newbee, SK Gaming and Scarz. Rogue, the team of 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup Mosaad Aldossary, is another involved. 

In addition, Team Liquid, Fnatic and Hashtag United, which were all involved in last year’s FIFA 18, will also return for next year.

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