IOC's refusal to recognise Gobal Esports Federation may actually be in industry's best interests

While there is a need for regulation in the world of competitive eSports, it should not be at the cost of creating a possible barrier to the future growth of the industry. A more neutral body that chooses to partner with all stakeholders (including international federations and IOC) with the aim of promoting a code of conduct is the solution that the industry should look towards.

Anand Krishnaswamy November 04, 2020 14:39:04 IST
IOC's refusal to recognise Gobal Esports Federation may actually be in industry's best interests

Recently, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) eSports and Gaming Liaison Group (ELG) chaired by International Cycling Union President David Lappartient warned all summer and winter sports federations to avoid joining the Global Esports Federation (GEF). The warning states that the IOC has no intention to recognise the organisation as the world governing body for esports.

GEF, backed by the Chinese tech giant Tencent, aims to “establish the credibility, legitimacy, and prestige for eSports”. Headquartered in Singapore, it boasts of strong links with the Olympic movement. President of GEF, Chris Chan, is also the secretary of the Singapore National Olympic Council. Furthermore, its Chief Operating Officer, Paul Foste,r is the former head of protocol, events, and hospitality for the IOC.

The decision by the IOC is a blow to the eSports community, however, in the long run, it could be beneficial for the development of eSports.

IOCs refusal to recognise Gobal Esports Federation may actually be in industrys best interests

The decision by the IOC appears to be a blow to the eSports community, however, in the long run it would be beneficial to the development of the industry. Representative Image

The IOC already have strong relations within the eSports industry. These relationships are with game publishers, platforms, and athletes. According to a report on Inside the Games, the ELG "will maintain these direct relationships rather than working through a third party."

The ELG added that while they remained committed to the cause of supporting international federations through the difficult times, it would not encourage these federations to enter a formal relationship with any world eSports body.

"Both of the organisations who reference themselves as esports federations have representatives on the ELG and we will continue to welcome the contribution of these individuals, however the IOC does not endorse or recognise any specific federation as a representative body in this area," the reports quotes the ELG.

Considering the facts, one believes that if a world governing body for eSports is to emerge, it would eventually become the barrier that slows the growth of the industry. The reason for this is simple; every single eSport is extremely complex and hence a single set of rules or strategies for their development would be a challenge. In terms of complexity of achieving such a task, it can be looked at as something similar to setting up a world body for all sports, one that would sit above even the likes of FIFA and ICC. While this may be great for unifying the industry, it could lead to problems with the regulation of certain eSports.

A big concern could be the fact that GEF is backed by Tencent. Tencent has major investments within eSports. While these investments would serve to motivate the company to try and ensure that the federation does a good job of managing the industry, in the future when the industry is more established and there is a need to make a decision on which eSport should receive more support, the ones where Tencent has a share may be favoured. This in turn would lead to the emergence of unfair practices within the world body and that would have a negative impact.

The biggest concern however is the possibility of a world eSports body attempting to outrightly control the market and the possibility that they may try to exploit the less powerful stakeholders.

The major argument to be made in favour of such an organisation being recognised is the fact that they will help regulate some of the issues related to match-fixing, cheating, and other unsportsmanlike behaviour that occurs within eSports. While there is a need for regulation in the world of competitive eSports, it should not be at the cost of creating a possible barrier to the future growth of the industry. A more neutral body that chooses to partner with all stakeholders (including international federations and IOC) with the aim of promoting a code of conduct is the solution that the industry should look towards.

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