Brazilian Esports Organization Pushes for Olympics Inclusion, Local Leaders Pessimistic

Through the Brazilian Confederation of Games and Esports (CBGE), the Global Esports Federation (GEF) has an ally in Brazil for its efforts to include esports at the Olympic Games. Following the close of a recent partnership with the innovation center Arena Hub located in São Paulo, CBGE President Paulo Roberto Ribas talked with The Esports Observer about the plans and the moves already made towards this objective.

Having selected CBGE as the exclusive entity in Brazil to be part of the process of recognition of esports in the Olympic universe, GEF is counting on the experience of Ribas, who worked on the candidacy for the Rio 2016 Olympics and was a government observer at the 2008 and 2012 Games. He was also directly linked to other sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and 2014, the Pan American Games in 2007, and other sports-related world championships.

“With the knowledge accumulated within 15 years in events, in 2015 we started a new project in Brazil with the objective of creating state federations and a Brazilian Esports Confederation that could contribute to elevating the sport to the recognition of the Olympic community,” Ribas said. “After studying the national market, we decided to found CBGE, in March 2019, with experienced professionals on the board and in the states to establish the necessary legal bases for athletes, clubs, and federations.” 

Other strategic partners of GEF around the globe are Commonwealth Sport, which counts more than 1B members in Europe, the Asian Olympic Council, the Organización Deportiva Suramericana in Latin America, the advertising agency Dentsu, the UN International Telecommunication Union, and other esports associations, such as the Arab Esport Federation. Although, from GEF’s key partners, Ribas highlights one as the most important for the Olympic project: the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), a branch of the International Olympic Committee that brings together all the International Sports Federations and is responsible for recognizing esports.

Ribas also revealed that CBGE also has a cooperation agreement with the Asian belt for the development of the games, technology, and innovation market, which involves Southeast Asia and the main game and streaming companies, led by Tencent, which is a sponsor and supporter of GEF since its creation. 

“In addition, a project study is already underway with the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovations along with several Brazilian universities, where we present to the minister and his team data on the feasibility of research and projects in the sector,” he said.

“Thus, CBGE felt the need to collaborate technically, supporting and advising the creation of the Parliamentary Front in Favor of Electronic Sports and Games, which gathers 210 federal deputies from the Federal Chamber. This is an important movement to give voice and opinion to all players in the sector in the country, enabling a wide debate that aims to bring benefits to athletes, clubs, and companies in the industry.”

According to Ribas, the partnership with Arena Hub, a sports-focused center for innovation and entrepreneurship, came as “its strategy shares the same ideal: raising esports, together with the games industry, to the Olympic level. This will bring benefits to startups, technology, innovation companies, and, specifically, to the esports event and competitive segment.”

Arena Hub has the involvement of the São Paulo State Government and the Football Federation of São Paulo, being located in the city at the Allianz Parque, one of the most important soccer stadiums in Brazil where CBGE will have an office for optional use. There, the federation will also have access to the content produced by Arena Hub, training programs, hackathons, office hours, mentoring, participation in challenges, and networking with partners in the sports and entertainment industry.

Ribas also told TEO that “[CBGE’s] idea is to take the debate to the Brazilian partners for a joint construction. Arena Hub and its associates are some of the most important partners in this plan, which brings together championships, events, an online channel for webinars, debates, and programs with content related to the subject.”

The Vision of The Local Esports Community

TEO also talked with key representatives of the esports industry in Brazil to learn their opinions on the subject, learning that many do not see CBGE, GEF, or the federation model at all, as a good idea. The Olympic project is considered an argument that federations are using as an attempt to enhance their importance in the esports community, which it is not interested in adopting the model. 

Making an esports competition every four years is seen as incompatible with the plan, as games can easily rise and disappear in this timespan and the sector is not in need of being part of the Olympics to gain awareness or legitimacy. Also, a regular international esports competition for nations is not structured yet, so aiming for the Olympics now, in the view of the sources, is not an important subject for the development of the scene. 

The sources also share the opinion that a federation model is highly susceptible to fraud and corruption, monopolizing esports control, and therefore making it harder for game publishers, organizations, and promotion companies to develop the scene. A forceful intrusion by such entities would even generate copyright and intellectual property problems with the game producers, which would harm the economy of the sector. So, as a protective measure, the community should fight laws and possible interferences of the government looking to impose conditions on adopting a federation. 

Among other bills that were refuted, the Federal Senate Bill number 383 of 2017 proposed by Sen. Roberto Rocha, the 4th article predicted the standardization and promotion of esports through confederations, federations, leagues, and associative entities. The community, with the support of Sen. Leila Barros, was able to stop the bill from passing.

Earlier this year, esports entrepreneur and CEO of the Brazilian organization Black Dragons Nicolle “Cherrygumms” Merhy rejected an invitation to a session of the Parliamentary Front in Favor of Electronic Sports and Games in March 2020, claiming that “the will of my presence on this Front is precisely to use my image and voice to propagate ideas that are harmful to our electronic sport,” as she published on her Twitter at the time. The session was carried out without any representatives from the competitive scene.

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