More and more football clubs across the globe are looking to esports as a way to boost engagement with younger fans and cement their brand’s longevity.
The issue is that clubs run the risk of wasting money and doing more harm than good if they don’t go about it the right way. As an example PSG’s launch went down well, whilst Schalke have fully committed to running rosters in titles besides FIFA such as League. The most recent example saw AS Roma go about it in a more unique way by directly partnering with Fnatic.
Qwatti Esports Agency is a company which has worked with the likes of Sporting CP, Schalke, Brondby and Legia Warsaw.
Ahead of speaking on the subject of football clubs entering esports at the Betting on Football conference in London next month (May 3-5), we sat down with Pedro Silva, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Qwatti, to quiz him on the current trend of football clubs entering the space.
Esports Insider: What has been the biggest challenge in terms of convincing football clubs that they should look to esports? Is the conversation getting any easier?
Pedro: I would say the biggest challenge has been to convince football clubs to invest reasonable amounts into esports. Pretty much all football clubs want to be in esports but many of them still don’t fully understand the benefits and treat it more as a Public Relations exercise.
“Unfortunately, only a few have gone past those titles into games like League of Legends, Rocket League or Hearthstone. That said, as more clubs are getting involved, the conversation is undoubtedly getting easier”
It’s also related to the fact that it’s not easy to explain to all of their fans straight away, hence all football clubs have a virtual football team (FIFA/PES). Unfortunately, only a few have gone past those titles into games like League of Legends, Rocket League or Hearthstone. That said, as more clubs are getting involved, the conversation is undoubtedly getting easier.
ESI: Why did you decide to get involved with the ‘Football Clubs in Esports’ panel at Betting on Football? What can attendees expect from the session?
Pedro: I believe Qwatti Esports has a great story to tell, with regards to the involvement of football clubs in esports, since we are the only agency in the world who works with multiple football clubs from different countries.
“As soon as clubs have a clearer strategy about pros and cons of esports, there will be a considerable amount of clubs in different esports titles”
I believe attendees can expect to get a more in-depth view of how football clubs are looking at esports and what they expect to benefit from.
ESI: Betting companies are now one of the biggest contributors to football globally as an industry. Do esports teams and league organisers need to be more accommodating towards these potential sponsors?
Pedro: I think there’s still a long way to go, mostly because football is clearly regulated in all aspects, including betting, but esports still isn’t. I believe that both betting and broadcasting rights will work in esports in a very similar fashion to how they currently work in football, it’ll just take a while, which is normal and to be expected.
ESI: You represent Sporting CP, Brondby and Legia Warsaw right now, and you’ve worked with Schalke. Do you encourage clubs to enter FIFA first or how does this discussion around titles go? Why have only Valencia formed a roster in Rocket League?
Pedro: We understand that football clubs may need to start with a football game, as it is easier to explain to their fans initially. A lot of our work however is to educate current fans about esports so that clubs can feel more comfortable moving into other titles.
“I believe attendees (at Betting on Football) can expect to get a more in-depth view of how football clubs are looking at esports and what they expect to benefit from”
As soon as clubs have a clearer strategy about pros and cons of esports, there will be a considerable amount of clubs in different esports titles. I strongly believe we will progress towards several professional leagues in different titles with current esports teams and Football teams playing side-by-side.
Then, at some point in a near future, the European football teams will likely start to have an approach like the American sports teams (basketball, etc.) wherein they will start acquiring existing organisations in Europe too.
(Disclaimer: The Betting on Football conference is run by our parent company SBC)