International football body FIFA’s esports division, FIFAe, has partnered with Saudi Arabian esports and gaming festival Gamers8.
As a result of the deal, all three season-ending FIFAe competitions will take place at the event — in addition to the prize pool increasing from $1.2m (~£946,908) to $3m (~£2.37m).
This year’s FIFAe Club World Cup, FIFAe Nations Cup, and the FIFAe World Cup will take place at Gamers8: The Land of Heroes from July 6th until July 19th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city.
The FIFAe competitions will be the final events to take place on EA Sports’ FIFA series, which will come to an end upon the conclusion of the event. EA will rebrand its FIFA video games to EA Sports FC, with the first instalment expected to release in September 2023. FIFA has said it will move the FIFA name to a new game.
Saudi Arabia has a strong track record in FIFAe and FIFA esports. Two former world champions have represented the Kingdom in previous tournaments and it was one of the first nations to compete in the Nations Cup created in 2019.
FIFA joins an extensive list of esports tournaments taking place at Gamers8. It joins the likes of Rocket League, Fortnite, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Street Fighter 6, and RENNSPORT at the event, where a total of $45m (~£35.5m) in prize money is up for grabs — in addition to a $5m (~£4m) reward scheme.
FIFAe recently held a bootcamp to promote inclusivity within its competitive circuit. In March, it unveiled an inclusivity programme called FAMEHERGAME, and in June participants took part in a bootcamp and tournament designed to equip aspiring female players with key industry skills.
The Gamers8 festival has attracted criticism in the past due to its ties with the Saudi Arabian government. The festival is organised by the Saudi Esports Federation, chaired by HRH Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud. Last year, Moist Esports declined its invitation to the event in protest at the country’s human rights record, particularly LGBTQ+ rights.
Romy Gai, Chief Business Officer at FIFA, spoke on the move to Gamers8: “This partnership with Gamers8 marks a new chapter in the evolution of FIFAe.
“Showcasing our strength in esports and gaming, this collaboration will enable us to build the biggest platform for players to display their skills, engage with the FIFAe community and inspire future generations to pursue their passion. With FIFAe it’s our ultimate goal and ambition to keep growing football esports together with everyone involved across all borders alike.”