SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Norway pioneers eSports initiative with sights sets on Euros and World Cup

September 24 – Norwegian video gamers are competing for places in the country’s national team with a view to forming a squad to play in organised eSport competition under the national team banner, as well as at any future European or World Championships.

With a sponsorship deal in place with Santander, the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF) has held qualification matches with over 350 players competing for places at a 64-player final round to be held at the Ullevaal Stadium on October 13, ahead of Norway’s Nations League match with Slovenia.

Co-ordinated via Facebook, the qualifiers were played on-line with the finals to be played off-line. The finals tournament will be streamed by TV2 on their OTT platform, with highlights used in the broadcast build-up to the Slovenia game.

The Norwegians are one of the pioneers in the national federation approach to eSports development and the potential to engage more fans with the sport and around the national team. The winner of this tournament will be offered a slot on the NFF’s esportland team which is anticipated to grow to a squad of 6-8 players.

“Esport is a growing phenomenon, played by both boys and girls, is global and can be played all year. We believe Esport also helps strengthen the overall football interest and is pleased that an actor like Santander will help us develop this offer,” said NFF’s commercial director Erik Loe.

Santander is already a sponsor of a number of Norwegian youth teams and the bank has targeted marketing support at the eSports genre.

“High-level sports are no innocent play. It requires exercise, concentration and mental strength at the top level. Organised eSport now raises enormous involvement internationally, and it is estimated that almost half a billion will be spectators for esport in 2019. At the same time, the sport itself is still young. For a bank that has ambitions to lead the way in the development of the financial industry, it is natural to support the development and professionalisation of a sport that creates a new type of enthusiasm and community,” said Knut Øvernes, head of Santander in Norway.

The NFF says there will be a lot of focus around the tournament and in the federation’s eSport’s strategy on Fair Play and healthy lifestyle through the NFF’s ‘Eat Move Sleep’ initiative.

“By 2019, the national team will play a number of training matches, as well as participate in tournaments under the auspices of the International Football Association. In addition, the national team will be well-equipped for any EM in 2020, and the World Cup in 2022,” said a Santander statement on the bank’s website.

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