English football club Sheffield Wednesday (SWFC) has announced the launch of its own dedicated esports team.
Simply known as Sheffield Wednesday Esports (SWFC Esports), the team will compete in the FIFA 23 Global Series and the Virtual Pro League, according to the club’s official announcement. The Virtual Pro League is a platform that hosts FIFA competitions using the title’s Pro Clubs game mode.
In addition to the launch of SWFC Esports, the club has appointed Rob Hawden as its Esports Executive. Hawden joins following a four-and-a-half year spell at fellow English football club Rotherham United where he was the team’s Esports Project Lead.
Alongside creating the club’s esports team, Hawden has created a grassroots esports initiative in a bid to scout talent from Sheffield and the surrounding area, according to the club.
In comparison to the FIFA Global Series, which is traditionally 1v1, Pro Clubs sees teams of eleven players compete in matches similar to real-world football. Sheffield Wednesday will join Virtual Pro League’s platform and compete against other teams. Some of the other teams featured in the rankings are esports organisations, like Betclic Apogee, and football clubs such as Galatasaray, Queen’s Park Rangers and Maribor.
The trend of football clubs using FIFA to enter esports shows no sign of slowing down. In July, Costa Rican side Club Sport Herediano formed an esports division while SC Internacional launched its own initiative.
Hawden spoke on his new role and the creation of SWFC Esports: “I am really happy to be joining such a big and historic club. I am here to take SWFC to the top of the Esports ladder and become the top professional club on the Pro Clubs scene.
“We intend to build a sustainable infrastructure adapting our Community Programme’s core principles of health, wellbeing, inclusion and education. The gaming community is vast and it’s important as a club that we instil the right values into our esports team and the brand.”