For its fourth player signing of the summer, Manchester City FC has turned to esports FIFA player Kieran “Kez” Brown. He is the club’s first ever esports player, and Manchester City becomes one of the first U.K. soccer teams to delve into esports.
Happy to Announce I'm the first e-Sport FIFA player for @ManCity.Something New. Something Different. I look forward to seeing how this goes🙃
— KezBrown (@KezBrown) July 6, 2016
Kez was overjoyed at the news:
“I’m going to livestream on twitch, I’m going to be making videos for Manchester City’s YouTube channel and I’m going to be playing some City fans and representing City in future tournaments, which I’m looking forward to. This is an opportunity which not many people get the chance to do and I couldn’t turn it down.”
The move into esports was a natural development
For Manchester City, the decision was a natural evolution of its business. The club has been involved with EA Sports and the FIFA franchise for several years.
SVP, Media and Innovation, Diego Gigliani, commented:
“As eSports continues to gain momentum, it makes sense for our Club to be part of the action and get closer to our fans, who love playing EA SPORTS FIFA as Manchester City. We will be a bigger presence at gaming tournaments, we will have more content through our digital channels and we will activate even more with our fans at matches and Club events.”
About the selection of Kez, Gigliani added:
“When we set out to find an eSports player, we decided we wanted someone who was a fantastic, young, talent, but also with a hunger and a desire to grow. We strongly believe we have found that in Kieran. He is full of potential. Not only is he a great player, but we also believe he will engage and interact brilliantly with our fans all around the world.”
Manchester City is an early adopter of esports
Manchester United is the bigger international name, but Manchester City has a long and distinguished history as a member of the English Football League.
Forbes magazine lists it as the world’s sixth most valuable soccer team. In the 2014/2015 financial year, club generated annual revenue of €463.5 million ($514.2 million).
In early June, Manchester United was reported to be in negotiations to buy an Overwatch team as its first foray into esports. Manchester City will be pleased to have completed its first esports signing before its bigger rival.
London Club West Ham became the first U.K. football club to sign an esports player in early May this year. It signed 24-year-old Sean “Dragonn” Allen, also an esports FIFA expert.
At around the same time, German club FC Schalke 04 signed up an entire League of Legends team. Since then, they have added three esports FIFA players: former FIFA and European champion for SK Gaming, Joshua Begehr, Mario Viska and Cihan Yasarlar.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spanish team Valencia is sponsoring a Hearthstone team after acquiring four players from the Samsung Gaming esports team.
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