As news broke that Lionel Messi, the captain of FC Barcelona, wanted to leave the club, the Spanish soccer organization announced that it will collaborate with Chinese video game giant Tencent to expand its esports presence.
Currently, FC Barcelona has teams that compete in the Psyonix title Rocket League and Konami’s eFootball PES 2020. However, the new partnership would develop an esports and business education exchange that would benefit both organizations. The Spanish club has expressed desire to grow its esports authority, yet emphasized that it wants to avoid any glorification of sports violence.
According to Palco23, FC Barcelona also wants to expand its engagement and revenue by investing more than €300 million into a digital strategy as well as esports in the next five years. The strategy would include the launch of Barca TV, a new video platform that will provide premium content related to its sports and esports teams. FC Barcelona is also hoping to invest in more esports teams that could compete in Riot Games’ League of Legends since the organization is closely linked to the game.
Tencent, which is the largest video game company in the world, owns 100% of League of Legends developer Riot Games, 84.3% of Clash Royale developer Supercell, 40% of Fortnite developer Epic Games, 11.5% of PUBG developer Bluehole, 5% of Rainbow Six Siege developer Ubisoft, and 5% of Call of Duty and Overwatch developer Activision Blizzard.
The deal with FC Barcelona will be the second major soccer team Tencent would be associated with. The company currently has a partnership with Manchester City. Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global esports market is still expected to generate revenues of $1.05 billion this year, according to market researcher Newzoo.
Earlier today, FC Barcelona confirmed that Messi has told the club that he wishes to leave immediately. The news comes just two weeks after a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Under the terms of his contract, which expires in 2021, Messi can only leave without the club’s consent if another team pays his release clause of $828 million.
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