April 20, 2018 / 12:20 PM / 7 months ago

Soccer-German FA opens door for esports teams membership

BERLIN, April 20 (Reuters) - The German Football Association (DFB) on Friday opened the door for membership to esports teams, saying only those focusing solely on football-related content would be considered.

A month after DFB President Reinhard Grindel rejected esports as a sporting activity, it said it would accept teams that compete in football games but would not recognise any violent or shooting games.

“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).”

Esports, the competitive side of electronic gaming, has quickly amassed hundreds of millions of players worldwide, equivalent to several traditional Olympic sports federations combined in a growing market worth about a billion dollars a year.

The DFB is the world’s largest national football association with 6.8 million registered members.

Grindel, who in March said esports “is not sports”, said 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.”

Germany has a strong esports community as well as several top professional teams.

The DFB’s decision comes a day after the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said that games with violent or discriminatory content would not be considered for the Olympic Games.

The IOC is eager to integrate esports into the Games to tap into a new and dynamic market. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by William Maclean)

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