A Swiss soccer match between the Young Boys and FC Basel was interrupted by what seems to have been an eSports protest.
About 15 minutes into the recent match, a group of protesters (which seemed to be comprised of fans of both clubs) began throwing PS4 controllers and tennis balls onto the pitch. The controllers seemed to bear the words “Fuck eSports.” Other fans unfurled a giant banner featuring a pause button while even more fans helped hold up a massive sign that would literally translate to “Shit eSports” but could possibly be interpreted to mean “eSports Are Shit” or something similar. The protest interrupted the game for a few minutes and then dissipated.
What is this all about? Well, it appears that there is a growing number of soccer/football fans who are upset with their clubs’ interest in expanding into the world of eSports. The FC Basel club has an official eSports team, and there are rumors that the Swiss league in question may ask all clubs to participate in an official eSports organization.
At the moment, the popular theory is that these fans are upset at the idea of their favorite clubs spending money on eSports when they could be spending money on absolutely anything else related to the actual team. As there doesn’t seem to be an official statement from the protesters in question, that certainly seems to be the best theory available at the moment regarding what is going on here.
However, there’s reason to believe that this whole thing dates back to the battle between “real” sports fans and fans of eSports. It would be inaccurate and irresponsible to suggest that there isn’t crossover between the two groups or even quite a few people who harbor a live and let live mentality, but there are certainly those from both sides who refuse to get along with the other side. As you can tell from the aforementioned protest, the most heated hostility between the groups hasn’t exactly cooled down.
It remains to be seen whether similar protests occur in the near future, but it feels fair to say that this debate isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.