La Liga and FC Barcelona join esports
If you were in any doubt that esports is here to stay, La Liga and Barcelona have come on board too05 March 2018 | FT Editor
As part of a new campaign to attract millenials, Spanish football's La Liga has launched an esports division which aims to launch several new projects in the coming months.
La Liga, which runs the two top tier football competitions in Spain, said that the new projects focus on combining esports with a “passion for football”.
La Liga eSports is part of the organisation's new campaign ‘It is not football, it’s LaLiga’.
A La Liga spokesman said that targeting the millenial demographic would satisfy the demands of sponsors that are keen to invest in esports.
“The chance to invest in a project that involves an organisation such as La Liga offers these sponsors the assurances they seek,” the spokesman said. “The first phase of the La Liga eSports project will be rolled out nationally across Spain and the aim is to expand internationally as the project establishes itself.”
In addition, La Liga leaders FC Barcelona are also taking their first steps into the esports world. The club has announced that they will compete in Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) competitions which are organised by eFootball.Pro and the game's developers, Konami.
Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué is the Founder and President of eFootball.Pro so it is no surprise that the club will be participating in the tournament.
The Catalan giants also have a lucrative partnership with Konami which allows PES certain benefits such as having the license to use Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium in their game - something FIFA does not have. Despite the partnership with Barcelona, PES has a long way to go if they want to catch up with FIFA in terms of esports. Last year's FIFA world champion Spencer 'Gorilla' Ealing received a staggering £156k for his win.
La Liga added that it has already worked with companies such as EA Sports and has more than 10 global game licences, as well as three of its own games – Head Soccer, which has been downloaded more than 50 million times, Head Soccer Heroes and LaLiga Fantasy Marca.
La Liga is not the first sporting league to take steps in to esports. In the last few months the A-League and MLS in football, as well as other codes such as the AFL, the NBA and NFL, have taken steps towards organising their own esport leagues in their respective titles.
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