German FA opens membership doors to esports teams

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By Samindra Kunti

April 23 – The German Football Association, DFB, has opened up its membership to e-sports team, limiting new entrants to those with a focus on football.

In March, DFB president Reinhard Grindel had once more denounced e-sports, rejecting that e-sports are an actual sporting activity, but in a remarkable u-turn the DFB will now allow e-sports teams membership recognition.

A restriction, however, will be in place: no e-sports teams that compete in shouting or violent games will be recognized, the teams must have a focus on football.

“That is why the engagement of the (regional) associations will only be limited to football-related games and formats,” the DFB said in a statement.

“Condition for DFB membership of esports clubs is the necessary recognition by the respective regional sports federation and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).”

The DFB might have taken a look at the interest in e-sports and its potential market value. E-sports has hundreds of millions of players all over the world, and as such matched a number of Olympic sports federations. The e-sports market is worth $4 billion per year.

Grindel said last month that e-sports “is not sports”, but nuanced that statement by stating that the games could complement the actual sporting activity. “If football-related games act as complementary to the sport at the club, and can get some people down to the clubs, then that has our support,” Grindel said. “But our first aim remains… to get kids and young people to actively play football.”

Grindel’s statement follows the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach observation that games with violent or discriminatory content would not be considered for the Olympic Games.

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