Melbourne City, one of the major clubs in Australia's premier football competition, has announced a local signing of a different kind: a FIFA player.
The move marks the club's first foray into esports, and a step forward for the A-League in general. "A 20-year-old FIFA fanatic, enthusiastic local footballer and regular eSports competitor, Gomes is the third FIFA player to sign with a City Football Group owned team, alongside New York City FC’s Christopher Holly and Manchester City’s Kieran Brown," the club announced on their website.
Gomes is competing at the FIFA Interactive World Cup finals in London, the only Australian to do so. That makes him one of the top 32 FIFA players in the world, undoubtedly highlighting the appeal for Melbourne City. As the club noted, City Football Group (which also owns the Premier League's Manchester City and Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan's J-League) already has two FIFA players overseas, and in their announcement they signalled further intentions to expand into esports.
"We know that many of our younger fans are playing esports regularly, and interest in the industry is growing in Australia and globally," Melbourne City CEO Scott Munn said. "With 16 million people playing FIFA worldwide, and the competitive FIFA scene taking shape, it is the right time for Melbourne City to move in to esports."