The FA has partnered with ESL to form the eLions, a FIFA team that will represent England.
Starting with the FIFA eNations Cup in April 2019, the team will be hosting online qualifiers for the tournament on March 9-10th, with four finalists progressing to live finals on March 14th in London.
The FIFA eNations Cup is an invite-online event that will see 16 international teams face off against each other in FIFA 19 Ultimate Team. It’s one of eight majors in the EA SPORTS FIFA 19 Global Series.
Mark Bullingham, Chief Commercial & Development Officer at The FA discussed the venture: “This presents an exciting opportunity for Three Lions fans to help form a new chapter in England’s history. The FA prides itself on being a modern, innovative organisation that strives to engage and inspire all generations of football fans. FIFA 19 is played by hundreds of millions of players daily with many selecting our male and female players so we have a great chance to engage with these as part of our efforts to continue to grow the game in England.”
The announcement made clear that the team isn’t closed off to a particular gender, but The FA will work with FIFA to “extend this opportunity to women’s national teams.”
Luis Vicente, Chief Digital Transformation & Innovation Officer at FIFA added: “The involvement of our member associations with a dedicated nations tournament is another significant and exciting step forward for FIFA and the development of eFootball globally. After the successful introduction of the FIFA eClub World Cup™ in recent years and the new team mode, we are looking forward to integrating this nation vs nation competition into our eFootball portfolio.”
This isn’t the only major involvement in FIFA esports that England has seen. Last year, the nation’s top flight of football – Premier League – partnered with EA to form a virtual iteration of the competition, known as the ePremier League.
Esports Insider says: Over the past year or two, FIFA esports has taken major steps to replicate certain aspects of football, from well-known clubs forming esports divisions to virtual versions of competitions (such as the ePremier League, Virtual Bundesliga, and eMLS) being launched. The eLions appears to be the next step in FIFA esports mirroring its physical equivalent.