Until today, Ubisoft had been planning on holding a “Six Major”, a competitive event for Rainbow Six Siege players, in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. After a massive fan protest on social media, though, the publisher has now decided to move the tournament to another “region”.
Ubisoft’s position was that there has been an “emergence of an enthusiastic competitive Rainbow Six Siege scene in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region, a community of local players and fans we wanted to highlight and celebrate”. And, to address the elephant in the room given the potential clashes between the esports community and a government with little regard for basic human rights, Ubisoft also believed that a “collective agreement” between the publisher, local esports partner and the UAE would result in an event “in which anyone, of all gender identities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, or other individual traits, would be included and welcomed”.
Fans and players, however, weren’t having any of it. A number of the community’s most prominent members quickly backed a petition demanding the tournament be moved, which was signed by over 13,000 people:
UAE or United Arab Emirates has documented serious LGBTQ+ right issues in the past year, criminalising homosexuality resulting in floggings, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced conversion therapy, honour killings, vigilante execution and more.
With the inclusion of LGBTQ+ members of R6:S talent, we believe as a collective that this decision is short-sighted, dangerous and backwards to the developing ideology of esports, Rainbow Six: Siege and it’s community.
Only 24 hours later, Ubisoft responded by announcing the tournament would be shifted, having “loud and clear that members of the international Siege community question this choice”. In a statement, the publisher said:
Last Sunday, we announced our plans to organise a Six Major in the United Arab Emirates. Over the past 6 years, we’ve seen the emergence of an enthusiastic competitive Rainbow Six Siege scene in the MENA region, a community of local players and fans we wanted to highlight and celebrate.
We want to stress that the safety and wellbeing of our event’s participants and staff is always our primary concern, and we are proud of what Rainbow Six Siege represents as a world where diversity, inclusion and acceptance are at its core. Choosing this location for a Six Major was the result of extensive discussions with our local teams in the region, the UAE government, and our local Esports partener, and their collective commitment that a Six Major in Abu Dhabi would be an event in which anyone, of all gender identities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, or other individual traits, would be included and welcomed, as has been the case with humorous other events previously held in the city.
With that in mind, we also hear loud and clear that members of the international Siege community question this choice, and we have taken the decision to move the Six Major of August 2022 to another Rainbow Six Esports region, with the exact location yet to be determined. In the spirit of fostering all our local communities around the world, in all their diversity, dedication and passion for the game, we will keep on developing and structuring our competitive activities in MENA, through local and regional tournaments and activations. The MENA region has been fast evolving into a key video game hub in the world, and we are humbled by the level of engagement, support and dedication of both our local fans and the talented staff of our MENA teams and Abu Dhabi development studio. Mirroring the determination and ambition of our teams in the region over the past 10 years, we are dedicated to investing in our emerging local esports scenes to help them reach their full potential and embrace them, as part of the worldwide Rainbow Six Siege community.
As the statement says, while the tournament has been moved, a replacement city has yet to be determined.