Footballers and esports have become increasingly intertwined in recent years, with many professional footballers investing in and owning esports teams. This trend highlights the growing popularity and significance of esports as a legitimate and lucrative industry. Here, we will take a closer look at some of the footballers who have taken the plunge into esports ownership.
One of the most high-profile footballers to invest in esports is Gareth Bale, the Welsh forward who currently plays for Tottenham Hotspur. In 2018, Bale launched his own esports team, Ellevens Esports, in partnership with 38 Entertainment Group. The team competes in a variety of games, including FIFA, Fortnite, and Rocket League. Bale has spoken publicly about his passion for esports, stating that it is “a fascinating industry” and “an area that’s only going to get bigger and bigger.”
Another footballer who has invested in esports is Gerard Piqué, the Spanish defender who plays for Barcelona. In 2018, Piqué launched his own esports company, eFootball.pro, which organizes tournaments and competitions for professional gamers. The company specializes in the game Pro Evolution Soccer and has attracted top teams and players from around the world. Piqué has stated that he sees esports as “a new frontier” for the sports industry and believes that it has the potential to be as big as traditional sports in the future.
Neymar Jr., the Brazilian forward who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, is also involved in esports ownership. In 2018, Neymar invested in the esports organization, Immortals, which fields teams in games such as League of Legends and Overwatch. The investment was part of a larger funding round that also included investors such as Lionsgate and Michael Jordan. Neymar has expressed his interest in the esports industry, stating that he believes it has a “bright future” and that it is “an incredible platform to connect with fans.”
Mesut Özil, the German midfielder who currently plays for Fenerbahçe in Turkey, is another footballer who has invested in esports. In 2018, Özil founded his own esports team, M10 Esports, which competes in games such as FIFA and Fortnite. The team has attracted top players and sponsors, including the German sportswear company, Adidas. Özil has spoken about his passion for gaming and esports, stating that he believes it is a “very promising market” and that he is excited to be a part of it.
David Beckham, the former England captain and Manchester United legend, is another high-profile footballer who has invested in esports. In 2020, Beckham announced that he had acquired a stake in Guild Esports, a UK-based esports organization that competes in games such as Fortnite, Rocket League, and Valorant. The investment marked Beckham’s first foray into esports ownership, and he stated that he was “excited to help lead the way in esports’ evolution.”
Finally, Antoine Griezmann, the French forward who plays for Barcelona, is also involved in esports ownership. In 2020, Griezmann announced that he had invested in the esports organization, Team Grizi, which competes in games such as FIFA, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege. The investment marked Griezmann’s first foray into esports ownership, and he stated that he was “delighted to be joining the world of esports.”
In conclusion, the growing trend of footballers investing in esports teams highlights the increasing popularity and significance of esports as a legitimate and lucrative industry. From Gareth Bale to David Beckham, many high-profile footballers have recognized the potential of esports and have taken the plunge into ownership. As esports continue to grow and evolve, it will be interesting to see how these investments pay off and how the relationship between traditional sports and esports continues to develop. It is clear that the future of sports is not limited to physical competition, and esports will play an increasingly important role in the sporting landscape. As footballers continue to invest in esports, we can expect to see more partnerships and collaborations between the two industries in the years to come. The potential for cross-promotion and audience expansion is significant, and footballers who invest in esports will likely benefit from the growth of this exciting and rapidly evolving industry.