British Esports, a not-for-profit national body which promotes esports in the United Kingdom, has released a new statement addressing “questions and concerns” raised over its partnership with the Saudi Esports Federation, which was announced earlier this week.
On Monday (October 9), British Esports said that it was “thrilled to announce our historic partnership agreement with the Saudi Esports Federation” - a partnership which it stated, “underscores the commitment of both federations to fostering international cooperation and growth within the esports industry and heralds an exciting era of opportunity, investment and development”.
However, as Eurogamer reports, people were quick to share their concerns online, namely in regard to the partnership’s implications for women and the LGBTQ+ community. In Saudi Arabia, same-sex sexual activity remains illegal to this day.
“You have an award-winning initiative for inclusivity in gaming - [Women in Esports], made a point in July that Pride 'isn't just for a month' or a 'marketing ploy' , and in one 'historic' partnership it’s been shoved back in their faces of the communities you claim to support?” one Twitter user questioned when the partnership was announced.
“I thought true inclusivity went far beyond surface-level representation and involved creating spaces where LGBTQ+ voices are valued, heard, and empowered every day of the year[,] but I guess October 9 is Pride cheat day,” another commented.
In its latest statement on Twitter, British Esports clarified that it has not “received any monetary contributions of any kind” from the partnership, as it “is not a commercial agreement or sponsorship”. Furthermore, it stated that “inclusivity is fundamental for the growth of esports globally”, and that it “will continue to lead by example through our communities”.
pic.twitter.com/XVkOEEt5wJOctober 10, 2023
“We also want to reaffirm our belief that every individual, regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, should be able to participate and thrive in the esports industry and this has not changed and will not change,” the statement reads.
“We recognize that truly embracing diversity and inclusivity means being ready to tackle challenges head-on and part of that commitment is a willingness to engage in dialogue that positively shapes and influences change,” it continues. “We want to represent all identities and backgrounds and we can’t do this alone. British Esports being part of the discussion enables a line of communication for all parties to share their values, learn and develop together.”
Furthermore, acknowledging the “many cultural differences around the world”, British Esports stated that it firmly believes “in the power of dialogue to overcome these challenges”. It has not indicated a desire to terminate its partnership with Saudi Esports, the organisation which has several members of the Saudi royal family on its board. Saudi Arabia recently made global headlines after reports came out of 100 people being executed in the country already this year. In 2018, dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, with several reports and even a CIA investigation suggesting the assassination was ordered by Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the crown prince of the middle eastern country.
British Esports concluded its message by saying that the community’s feedback is “invaluable”, and that “we wholeheartedly encourage an open and constructive conversation”.
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Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.