Soccer Legend Ronaldo Invests In Brazilian Esports

Written By Joss Wood on January 25, 2017

[toc]Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo is getting into esports.

Ronaldo’s esports investment

Ronaldo invested alongside poker professional Andre Akkari and Igor “Federal” Trafane, the executive director of the Brazilian Series of Poker to buy 50 percent of CNB e-Sports Club.

The club’s founders — Cleber “Fuzi” Fonseca and Carlos “Fury” Junior — will remain the managers of the business as the owners of the remaining 50 percent.

Junior explained:

“The management is still the same, with me and my partner, what changes is that we now have two world champions with us, which adds a lot to our image. I think it will give the business leverage to be able to explore new markets, including Football and other electronic games.”

CNB e-Sports Club also owns the esports news site MyCNB.

Akkari was instrumental in gaining Ronaldo’s interest

Akkari is a well-known professional poker player sponsored by the world’s largest online poker brand, PokerStars. In 2013, PokerStars sponsored Ronaldo as part of their Team SportsStars.

In March 2016, Akkari became interested in esports and visited several team houses in Brazil to learn about CS:GO and League of Legends.

He began discussing esports with Ronaldo in the summer, and the two friends both enjoyed watching esports tournaments. That resulted in their decision to invest in the space.

Ronaldo said:

“As athletes, we find in the CNB ideals that have everything to do with ours and we are going to transfer to e-sports the adrenaline of soccer fields and poker tables.”

Ronaldo has over 11 million followers on Facebook, and a huge media presence in Brazil. In taking a lead in investing in esports, he will undoubtedly raise the profile of the industry both with a mainstream audience and with investors in Brazil.

He was appointed as a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador in 2000 and acted as an ambassador for the last soccer World Cup in 2014.

Sports stars are early to see the esports potential

Ronaldo is treading a path that is becoming well-worn, as over the last year several other high-profile sports stars have made esports investments.

NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and MLB stars Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins have invested in Team NRG. The team recently bought Overwatch squad Team Mixup, a deal which is supposed to have originated in Shaq’s love for the game.

Magic Johnson joined a heavyweight group of investors to form aXiomatic which bought Team Liquid in September 2016.

aXiomatic CEO Bruce Stein is also looking at expansion, with expectations that a consumer products group will be announced in 2017. In an interview with SportTechie, he said:

“Our mission isn’t to own everything. Some areas we’ll invest or we’ll own. … We may just decide on M&A activity that has more significance. It’s still so early that a lot of that hasn’t been mapped out besides all of the investors we have on board who are excited for this ride.”

The savvy sport stars who are getting invested in esports are looking at a broader picture, rather than simply expressing their esports enthusiasm by owning part or all of a team.

Image credit: Antonio Scorza / Shutterstock, Inc.

Joss Wood Avatar
Written by
Joss Wood

Joss Wood holds an English degree from the University of Birmingham and also earned a master’s degree in organizational development from the University of Manchester. Joss has a special focus on the international online gambling market, though he also writes extensively on US regulated markets, sports betting, and esports betting.

View all posts by Joss Wood