(Reuters) – Wales and Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has launched a new esports organisation called Ellevens Esports, with a team from the franchise set to make their debut at the FIFA eClub World Cup in Milan this week.
The venture is co-owned by Bale and 38 Entertainment Group, founded by investor Jonathan Kark and former footballer Larry Cohen.
Bale has also invited gamers from around the world to participate in a talent hunt where they will be given a chance to sign a professional contract with Ellevens Esports.
“There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game,” Bale said in a statement.
Apart from FIFA, Ellevens plans to expand to other esports multiplayer platforms such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite and Rocket League.
Prize money in esports has grown in recent years and last year American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won over $3 million after taking the top prize in a Fortnite tournament – more than the prize money on offer at Wimbledon or the Masters.
The FIFA eClub World Cup will offer a total prize pool of $100,000 and a chance to earn Global Series Rankings points that will help players qualify for the FIFA eWorld Cup in July.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)