- The International Esports Federation (IESF) and Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) signed an MOU and will develop a formal collaborative relationship.
- The IESF has operated for over decade, while the AESF has integrated esports into major Asian sporting events.
- Both organizations exist in a fractured political esports space, with multiple groups competing for government recognition and game publisher relations.
The IESF and AESF today signed an agreement that would see the two esports federations develop a formal collaborative relationship to promote and advance esports globally, and across the Asian continent. The signing ceremony was held digitally, with members from both organizations currently unable to travel due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the signing of this MOU, the IESF recognizes and acknowledges the AESF as the sole federation for esports in Asia, with the AESF reciprocating this for the IESF on the international level. According to a release, the agreement unites all member associations and federations (many of which are shared by the two organizations). The groups also expect other continental federations to become part of this alliance.
The agreement was signed by Colin Webster, president of the IESF. Members of the IESF board include VP Vlad Marinescu, former Director General of SportAccord, current Korean Esports Association (KESPA) President Young-Man Kim, and His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. Last year, the IESF established an informal relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
From the AESF, the MOU was signed by President Kenneth Fok, who is also VP of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, and Sebastian Lau, director general of AESF. Recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the AESF staged an esports demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, and has introduced competitive video gaming as a medal sport at other Asian Olympic sporting events.
The IESF was formed in 2008 and is headquartered in Busan, South Korea. It has been a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since 2013.
While the AESF may have recognized the IESF as the world governing body for esports, the federation does not yet have any formal partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and perhaps more importantly, any of the publishers of the games scheduled for its 12th World Championship event, including Dota 2, TEKKEN 7, and eFootball PES.
In December of last year, a competing Global Esports Federation (GEF) was established, with leadership from both the Olympic community and Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings. The GEF’s president, Chris Chan, told The Esports Observer that his organization was not competing with any other body.
“We know the IESF and a few others, but you can see all the people on the [GEF] board, we’re all leaders in the Olympic movement or the sports industry,” he said in January.
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