The rapidly-growing virtual world of e-sport is having to face up to some very real problems as it steps further into the mainstream sporting landscape. The age-old scourges of match-fixing and doping are becoming part of the conversation even as the talk turns to an electronic future at such major multi-sport tournaments as the 2022 Asian Games. Issues of governance, player contracts and protection of minors are keeping the lawyers busy in a rapidly-developing electronic arena that has been described as a sporting ‘Wild West'.
Jan Pommer, director of team and federation relations at Cologne-based ESL (Electronic Sports League) warned also of the risk of external regulation.
"The U.S. or the European Union, if they have the impression we are not taking this seriously and developing this adolescent industry ourselves in a way that is efficient, we will be in problems," he told a Leaders in Sport forum on Tuesday.
E-sports include competitive gaming where players square off on virtual games for big prize money in tournaments and draw millions of spectators online. Global audiences are expected to reach 385.5 million this year, according to research firm Newzoo. The Olympic Council of Asia is also planning to make e-sports a medal sport in the 2022 Asian Games.