This Saturday (September 9th) the plan was for two professional esports players to go head to head on the pitch prior to the Serie A game between AS Roma and Sampdoria. This would have been a first in Italian football history, but it wasn’t to be as heavy rain caused the event to be postponed until a later date.
The FIFA 17 will be between Sampdoria’s Lonewolf92 (Mattia Guarracino) and Roma’s FIFA pro player Insa (Nicolo Mirra), though with the delay it could transpire that it ends up as a FIFA 18 fixture with the next iteration of the EA Sports title out at the end of the month.
Prior to the decision to postpone the match, Colin Johnson, Head of FIFA at AS Roma and FNATIC told Esports Insider: “Having the esports players being placed front and center during a matchday is a huge step for the two teams, as well as for FIFA esports in Italy in general.
“It shows how seriously both organisations take esports and the pride will definitely be on the line for Nicolo and Mattia. And hopefully with more and more clubs entering the scene every week, this won’t be the last time we’ll have a FIFA competition mirroring a real-life match.
“This event has been replicated at other matches already, what with Italy vs Netherlands being preceded by two professional FIFA players from the respective nations playing it out on the field on FIFA 17. And I only anticipate more and more clubs doing events like this especially with leagues like e-Ligue 1 and the e-Divisie pushing the parallel forward.”
Johnson spoke last week on the convergence of football and esports at Soccerex in Manchester. We can expect a lot more dedication to the esports aspect upon the release of FIFA 18, and it’s inevitable that show-matches such as this one between AS Roma and Sampdoria will become far more commonplace.
Esports Insider says: It’s a shame that weather caused this one to be delayed, but make no mistake, with FIFA 18’s release we’ll have more than enough events such as this put on by football clubs and we’re bound to see a great deal more professional football clubs enter the scene too. We can also hope that this means more football clubs mirroring the path of the likes of Schalke, FC Copenhagen and PSG in the wider esports space.