An update on the esports debate in Brazil

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Blog, Games

A recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) about IP and sports highlighted “… the emergence of new areas such as eSports, which has grown rapidly to reach a global audience of nearly 500 million…”.

While the global esports market has been growing exponentially over the past years, Brazil has steadily established itself among the top countries in this thriving industry, also being the host of important esports events over the last years (for example, the hugely popular IEM Rio Major during October and November 2022).

However, there has also been considerable debate on how best to regulate the area and whether to grant esports the official status as a sport in the country.

The regulation of esports was foreseen in Federal Bill No. 383, of 2017, which set out to establish specific rules for the practice of electronic sports in Brazil, as well as to promote the modality. The Bill had sought to grant esports official status as a sport, but was shelved in December 2022, without being approved by the Brazilian Congress.

The proposal came up against resistance, with some of the senators finding that there is no need for such regulation and disagreeing with the creation of a system with a sports federation and a confederation for esports.

This year, the recent declaration by Brazil’s new Minister of Sport, Ana Moser, stating that the games industry is ‘entertainment’, generated strong criticism from the esports sector. The Minister’s position would effectively mean the practitioners of esports are not be considered athletes under the law. In the aftermath, her statement generated widespread discussion among organisations, influencers, and players across the country.

It is worth noting that the minister’s position appears to go against the global trends in the area, with many countries (including Japan, China, and South Korea, for example) moving in the opposite direction.

It is also unclear why esports should be excluded from the Brazil’s new General Sports Law (Bill 1,153/2019), which is due to update the famous Pele Law from 1988, and is set to consolidate the different sports related legislation in the country. In fact, the original text had originally included a reference to “virtual sports”, but such term was later excluded from the amended definition.

It is important to note that, with such a restriction in place, esports athletes would be unable to apply for national scholarships or other government resources available for sports.

In a recent article, Daniel Law partner and technology expert Luciano Monaco argues against excluding esports from the rest of the sporting world, finding that such a move would make investments more difficult, remove the necessary legal protection for players, and move the area away from other sports practices in Brazil, all without any real gain.

He also finds that providing ‘adequate regulation’ will make it possible to guarantee the basic rights of athletes, that already exist in other sports.

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At Daniel Law we monitor the esports industry, and any relevant new legislation or decisions by the courts. If you have any questions on this topic don’t hesitate to contact us.

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