Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sporting ‘Virtual World’ To Launch Tomorrow

Christian Salomon of Infront, the provider of host broadcast services for FIFA’s World Cup, revealed that Empire of Sports, a virtual world in which players compete through their ‘avatars’ to win sporting competitions, will be launched tomorrow. Salomon, who is Head of Marketing and Sales for Empire of Sports, said at the International Sports Media Summit, hosted in Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, that Infront was using its network of rights agreements with international federations, national associations and clubs to get sporting organisations involved in the project.

Infront will announce that Empire of Sports will involve four virtual cities and seven sports, including football, basketball, tennis and skiing. Players will have to train, eat the right food and buy the right equipment, as well as practice to improve their performance, and Salomon said that a number of licensing agreements with ‘real world’ sporting brands had been concluded.

Salomon said that players not interested in becoming virtual sporting stars could sign up to become Chairman, Chief Executive or Manager of a sporting organisation. This opens up the whole question of sabotage even further than if just on-field players were involved. For example: what is to stop an Arsenal fan from encouraging his fellow supporters to sign up and sabotage either the Chelsea team or management, for example by training their avatar enough to get picked for the team, then performing badly?

“It will be interesting to see how this develops”, said Salomon, when I questioned him on this. “We are keen for the players to sort these type of developments out for themselves. We will not intervene unless we absolutely have to”.

Infront announced that it was developing Empire of Sports with F4, a European and Asian video game development company, in June this year.

 Andy Brown


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