Launch of the final phase of the national football BOV MFA FIFA ePremier League – a digital premier league involving local football clubs with a new dimension in e-sports within this sector – An opportunity for the winners to compete on an international level
‘An initiative that really strengthens the local sports ecosystem, where we are investing in our ‘grassroots’, the Maltese players and teams, enabling us to build this sector on a solid foundation’ – Minister Schembri
Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri launched the final phase of the first national BOV MFA FIFA ePremier football league which is being held in collaboration with the MFA, GMR and FIFA, a digital premier league involving local football clubs, and which gives a new dimension to e-sports in this sector, a league which is estimated to have a following of more than 40,000 people.
‘As a Government, we will proceed with our work to strengthen the existing ecosystem for this sector, as well as the skills sought in this sector, in order to continue to create new career opportunities. I welcome here the substantial number of young people who have taken and are taking part in the BOV MFA FIFA ePremier League, which was launched with 300 participants and has now reached 16 in its final stage. While speaking to the organizers, I noticed first of all the increase of 50 new participants when compared to last year, a fact that shows how interest in this industry is growing continually. I have to add that this league is reaching out to amateurs who may not have yet taken that step to take part; from here I urge them to take the plunge because in the future this sector will continue to grow. This is an initiative which rightly bolsters the local esports ecosystem, where we are investing in our ‘grassroots’, the Maltese players, enabling us to build this sector on a solid foundation,’ said Minister Schembri.
This national league unites the world of football with that of e-sports. We are witnessing football clubs invest in digital game players so that they can participate in this ePremier league. This is leading to more young people taking e-sports seriously and training vigorously in this type of digital sport. It was affirmed that those players who will rank in first and second place in this national league will have the opportunity to compete with FIFA esports players at an international level, where it is estimated that this will be followed by millions, which means that during this tournament the talent of our country in this field will be under close scrutiny.
Minister Schembri explained how as a Ministry we have recognized the potential that can be combined within this digital sector: the potential for the development of design, content, and trademarks. Therefore, the Ministry for the Economy and Industry, through work within the Department of Commerce, is currently raising awareness about the importance of the protection of Trademarks and Designs, as well as through the Malta BOV ePremier Annual League with the ‘Be Exclusive’ campaign. This exclusive national e-sport event organized by the MFA is a very viable alternative activity that further assists the Office in promoting intellectual property. Being part of the EA SPORTS ™ FIFA Global Series is a great showcase of how various IPs, including trademarks and designs, are being protected and established. Such an event initiative can help people understand where registered trademarks and designs come into play within such a creative environment.
‘Among other areas, through this cooperation, we will be reaching out and encouraging local football teams to register their trademarks and designs through this partnership. That is, we are urging local teams to ensure the protection of their brand, emblems, logos and other promotional content such as memorabilia, by seeing that they register them as their intellectual property with the trade department, which in turn will secure their protection in the European register of IPs. This investment will then have a multiplier effect on the local creative community in general, with our target audience being mainly young people and young adults, whereas we all know, it is the perfect age to inform them well about how to protect intellectual property, by recording their creation both locally and at EU level,’ said Minister Schembri while wishing success to the participants.
MFA President, Bjorn Vassallo said that this collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Industry when it comes to e-sports is essential and allows important objectives of technological innovation to be achieved, one of the aspects behind the strategy being pursued by the Malta Football Association.
‘The Malta BOV MFA FIFA ePremier League is a new opportunity borne against the backdrop of the technological transformation that the country is promoting. The Malta BOV MFA FIFA ePremier League has reached its second edition after the official inauguration of this electronic championship took place last season. Since 2017, the Association has started a digitization process that recently has also been extended to innovation through projects related to artificial intelligence and other systems. E-sports has thousands of followers and creates great competition between players and teams, both locally and internationally. Malta will be represented in the eNations Cup through the eNational Team, which is currently undergoing training, with preparations expected to intensify in the coming days with a number of friendly matches,’ said Vassallo.
Kersten Chircop from GMR Entertainment said that they are delighted with this collaborative work for the second edition of the Malta BOV MFA FIFA ePremier League, a competition that has elevated the local sports industry in several respects, especially when it comes to player opportunities. Ms Chircop said, “being part of the EA Sports Global Series, many local players are showing more interest year after year, as they all know how difficult it is to reach the final stages of this competition. This is reflected in the number of registrations we have seen this year with an increase of around 20%”.
He added that “it is also important to note that such competitions require a lot of technical knowledge. Nowadays, we need talents such as commentators, video producers, and stage designers to ensure that we provide a high-quality product.”