The “EFoot” version of Euro-2020se is played online this weekend with 16 qualified nations. A competition that should meet with great interest due to the postponement of the football championship in most countries.
Euro-2020 is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and France’s trophy hopes that 2020 will no longer rest on the crampons of Kylian Mbappé but on flashes of two aces for the controller of the game Pro Evolution Soccer, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May.
“That’s it, it’s all up to us!” Lotfi Derradji, 21, confirms one of the two playersFrance eFoot team, is considered the “big favorite” of the first “eEuro” in history. “We get a lot of messages from people who are passionate about this competition. We will represent the French through the console,” adds teammate Walid Rachid Tebane, 26, a triple world champion in the discipline individually.
Stake? A prestigious title, of course, but also a “prize money” of 40,000 euros for the winners, a significant sum for players whose monthly club salaries vary between 2,000 and 6,000 euros.
Griezmann on the virtual field
The competition between the 16 qualifying countries would take place in London between the semi-finals and the finals of Euro-2020 in an overheated atmosphere. But the health crisis has upset the plans. “We are a little disappointed but on the other hand it is good: the eyes will be more focused on us,” hopes Lotfi, who especially trained with the French player Antoine Griezmann, a big lover of video games, during the containment.
International football enthusiasts will be ready to follow eEuro, in a context of almost general stoppage of competitions since March, with only a recent recovery in Germany. “We’ve seen the spread of esports competitions over the past two to three months because it was an option for fans and athletes,” explains Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA’s marketing manager, citing Formula 1 and tennis, for example, who had a pretty significant audience “.
“We finally realize that weaned sports fans would be ready to watch esports competitions, when they had never considered it before,” he added.
With “the most global” distribution possible through its regular TV channels, the digital channels of its sponsors and the social networks of its affiliates, UEFA’s goal is to bring together “at least 4 million people cumulatively over the two days of the tournament”. For this, the European body is based on the man from “countries we are not used to seeing in the last phase of our regular competitions”, such as Luxembourg, and an attractive format, where each participant plays with the nation he represents.
An opportunity for outreach
Against Greece, Israel and Austria in pools, the Blues will each play a “simple” by adding the score for the two matches. In the event of a draw, the confrontation is decided by a third support match.
And in order not to favor the big nations with the best numbers in the game, the overall level of the laws has been harmonized while maintaining the identity of each player. “An Mbappé will always be more fluid than a Mitroglou (Greece) for example, but on the other hand it will not be stronger than him,” explains Lotfi Derradji.
An equitable system that is likely to make eEuro as attractive as the “real” euro in 10 or 20 years? “No, this will never replace football! We won’t lie to each other,” Walid Rachid Tebane said. “It’s not easy for people to accept that there may be competition for seated people.”
Instead of seeing the rise of esports, especially through games like Fornite or League of Legends, as a “competitive risk”, UEFA would rather use it “as an opportunity” to market its “major” competitions, as well as the Champions League, which also has its e-tournament since 2019.
“We are committed to helping complement what we do when it comes to real football,” explains Guy-Laurent Epstein. “We will continue to invest in the future, no doubt about it. I think it will be a big boom after this eEuro.”