Why football and gaming have become inseparable

Gaming has never been in such a healthy position. Football, on the whole, is in similar shape and continues to be watched by millions of people globally. As a pairing, they’re perfectly matched too. Footballers enjoy gaming, and likewise, many gamers are big fans of the beautiful game. In fact, in recent times, both the online and the on-pitch world’s have collided on a more regular basis.

As well as watching well-oiled machines in the shape of Bayern Munich put on a number of glorious displays in the Champions League, fans are also able to view some of the talented players they watch on highlight reels partake in the odd FIFA session. FIFA has certainly done a lot to bring the two sides together, enabling fans to watch their Premier League heroes take down gamers online or even witness a face-off between two teammates. Streaming platforms like Twitch have provided a home for this type of content too.

The sheer amount of football games is beyond belief when you assess the overall genre also. FIFA is undoubtedly the most commonly played option for fans of the sport, but releases like Football Manager enable supporters to live the life of their favourite World Cup-winning bosses or even take an obscure minnow into the Europa League Final. Likewise, football-themed slot games such as Microgaming’s All Win FC provides fans with the chance to win real money on what is a 5-reel, 10-payline high variance football-themed title. Then there’s Premier League fantasy football which captivates audiences throughout an entire season, and even a variety of arcade-themed smartphone games, which are being downloaded on a regular basis, too.

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The rise of the ePremierLeague

With regards to FIFA, we have even seen the Premier League recently launch its own FIFA competition. Starting in 2019, the ePremierLeague featured a number of esports professionals representing each Premier League side in a hugely entertaining competition. On top of this, numerous football clubs outside of England’s top-flight now have their very own esports team, with its professional players earning big money and taking part in fairly lucrative competitions.

Former Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs, who now plays in the States for Charlotte Independence after being loaned out by his Major League Soccer club Charlotte FC, thinks football and gaming are well matched. He recently told the BBC: “I think everybody who’s interested in football is also interested in football games. When I grew up, besides doing homework and practising football outdoors, I still found some time to play Fifa, right? Esports is another way to get into professional clubs now.”

European giants involved too

The former Austrian international isn’t wrong either, with the likes of Ajax and Paris St-Germain teaming up with pro gamers as they attempt to break into the growing world of esports, while also tapping into new markets in the process and continuing the strong relationship both football and gaming have clearly forged in recent times.

Gaming is now a large part of the overall culture within football. Games not only provide cultural reference points which we’ve seen in some iconic matches over the years, but they give football fans – the most loyal customers on the planet – yet another product to buy into and get fully involved with.

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The players are regularly endorsing these types of games also, with releases away from the football genre finding their way onto the pitch, namely Antoine Griezmann’s Fortnite celebration. Former Republic of Ireland international David Meyler is now a FIFA YouTuber also. Even Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster is doing something similar on the platform, too.

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