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Switzerland: eSports no sport – no subsidies

Published by

June 10, 2019 7:29 am

esports no sport

The Federal Office of Sport (FOSPO) published its report on eSports in Switzerland at the end of March. It states that it cannot yet be recognised as a sport in its current form.

On a total of 13 pages, the Baspo explains what eSports is, how developments can be viewed internationally and how the situation in Switzerland can be classified. The aim of the report is “to create a basis for decision-making in the political-strategic discussion and, if necessary, to derive specific FOSPO measures in the field of eSports”.

Too little physical activity

In the end, the Federal Office comes to the conclusion that eSports is not comparable to conventional sports. Therefore, there is no support from the federal government. A few points were decisive. The focus is certainly on the health aspect. In various departments, the federal government defines the demands on the physical activity level that a sport must have in order to be considered a sport to be promoted.

“Games and the associated experiences in virtually designed spaces do not in any way increase health-promoting physical activity activities at all ages from today’s perspective,” the Baspo states in its report. A concrete attitude towards eSports has so far only been taken by the Youth and Sports Department. The legal basis was examined to determine whether eSports qualifies for funding. In order for this to be the case in the future, the legal basis would have to be adapted.

Ethical conflict

There are also problems with an ethical issue, which the Baspo takes up in its report. “War games contradict the ethics charter of the FOSPO and Swiss Olympic.” Another point is the dependence on developers, who are still among the biggest organisers of eSports. The power to decide on the rules and procedures of a discipline is not in the hands of an association, but solely in the hands of the developer. With a new release, all previous rules can be thrown over the top, without any outside influence. This is not the case with traditional sports.

Too little direct human contact?

Interesting is a core statement, which is often repeated in the report:

The FOSPO states that e-sports cannot be compared with conventional sports because no primary experiences in direct contact with fellow human beings and the environment are possible, but the experience takes place in virtual space.
Even if the arguments about physical sports activity or ethics are understandable, eSports in its current form can no longer be described as just an “experience in virtual space”. Important tournaments and LAN parties all take place offline, the athletes face each other directly and the contact with fellow human beings is given, especially during team games, by the necessary communication and team ability.

Doors remain open

At the end of the report, however, the Federal Office of Sport states that this document does not close the doors to eSport as a sport in Switzerland. The development continues to be watched closely and “if necessary, reassess and, if necessary, involve other interested parties and/or actors”. Even if we can’t pop corks today, we now know what’s going on. Some points are understandable and good, others fail due to an outdated legal basis.
In any case, we now also know that the federal government knows what eSports is.

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