Controllers at the ready: the FAI today announced its commitment to the rise of esports, with the announcement that the association is launching a domestic FIFA 21 competition for all League of Ireland clubs, dubbed eLOI.
The Republic of Ireland will also be represented at the FIFAe Nations Series 2021, a worldwide esports event run by football's governing body, as per today's announcement.
20 clubs across the League of Ireland Premier and First Divisions will participate in the virtual tournament, which will begin on April 6th.
The live final of the FIFA 21 contest is scheduled for May 10th.
The new eLOI will act as a qualification route for the FIFAe World Cup: the top two players at the end of the eLOI campaign will be entered in the EA Sports FIFA 21 European PS4 play-offs later this year.
Since 2004, the best individual FIFA players from around the world have come together every year to compete for the FIFAe World Cup.
In addition to participation in the Europe-wide qualifiers, the winner of the inaugural eLOI will represent the Republic of Ireland at the FIFAe Nations Series during the qualification stages to be held this May.
A second Irish representative will be selected via the FAI eCup, an open online tournament that will be run throughout the month of April. Those interested in participating in the contest can register for the FAI eCup on the FAI website.
The FIFAe Nations Series was first held in 2019, where countries are represented by a team of talented FIFA players. France clinched the crown in 2019, when the competition was held in London.
Speaking on the launch of the eLOI, League of Ireland director Mark Scanlon said: "I wish all the participating clubs the best of luck in the new eLOI tournament and look forward to seeing them going on to represent Ireland on the global stage."
Robert Garrigan, FAI project lead, also spoke of the announcements: "This marks an exciting start for the FAI with our first venture into the world of esports.
"We’ve seen huge growth in the participation of our Irish footballing fans in the esports space and we can’t wait to put Irish players on the map in the FIFAe Nations Series and via the brand new eLOI."