BERLIN (Reuters) - Esports is not a sports activity and competitive gaming’s Olympic ambitions are “absurd”, the President of Germany’s Football Association (DFB) Reinhard Grindel said.
Esports, the competitive side of electronic gaming, has quickly amassed an estimated 250 million players worldwide, more than several traditional Olympic sports federations combined in a growing market worth about a billion dollars a year.
“The biggest competition to kids coming to our sports clubs is not handball or basketball but the use of digital equipment. That is absolute impoverishment,” Grindel told reporters during a talk organised by the Weser Kurier newspaper in northern Germany.
The DFB is the world’s largest national football association with 6.8 million registered members.
“Sport plays a social function and this happens in the community. With sport you have direct contact with those you play.
“Football belongs on the green pitch and has nothing to do with other things that are computer-related. For me esports is not sports.”
The IOC in November recognised esports as a sports activity, the first clear indication to the growing industry that it wants to link up. Esports will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games.
At the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month Intel Corp INTC.O, a leading Olympics sponsor, organised an esports tournament only a stone’s throw from the Games venues, with South Korea a hotbed for esports.
The players, wearing shirts branded with the Olympic rings, competed for a $150,000 prize - several times more than what the vast majority of gold medallist Olympians will earn in bonuses from their home nations.
“I consider this absurd,” Grindel said when asked of esports’ potential future Olympic Games inclusion. “I hope this does not happen.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond