Image Courtesy: Meylan Jean-Pierre
Fans in Switzerland held up play by hurling tennis balls and game consoles on the field in an odd protest against esports, forcing the referee to stop the game between Young Boys and FC Basel for two minutes while everything was cleared away.
The Young Boys fans then deployed a banner with a "pause" button, after which the Basel fans also unfurled their own banners. One of them reading "Scheiss esports" which roughly translates to "esports are s**t".
The Young Boys supporter group who organized the protest released a statement, saying the Swiss Football League will mandate all clubs must have an esports team to continue competing in the highest league. The club denies this.https://t.co/qZR43fuxwPhttps://t.co/GSM4yA44LB pic.twitter.com/uyY6PzQFbt— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) September 24, 2018
The protest comes as several professional sports leagues and teams around the world are investing resources into esports. It appears like traditional sporting institutions see esports as complementary to their traditional operations and are tempted by the huge global appeal of these new sports, and perceive esports as a way to engage a younger, more tech-savvy audience.
While some fans took part in these protests, it should be noted that most of these protestors were booed by the other soccer fans in attendance, expressing their disdain at the events that just took part.
The protesters also got booed by the way, but let's leave that out of the piece...— Redeye (@PaulChaloner) September 24, 2018
This incident has not dented the increasing number of football clubs beginning to invest in esports. Last year we saw PSG announce a new partnership with LGD Gaming to form PSG.LGD. Just yesterday, the world’s biggest football club, Real Madrid confirmed interest in joining the esports space, showcasing an esports area in their latest "stadium renewal" video.